With the holiday season upon us, your laboratory might be slowing or shutting down as you take time off from work. If you or your colleagues are away from your instruments for more than a long weekend, there are steps you can take to ensure a smooth startup when you get back into the laboratory.
Make sure that there are sufficient carrier and purge gas supplies to last the duration of your break. If gas supply is not a concern, your instruments may be left running until you return. Normal standby flows and temperatures are robust enough to ensure the instruments will be ready for analysis when you are ready. If gas supply is a concern, or you would like to shut down the instruments, then the following procedure should be followed:
Purge and Trap (P&T)
- Open the method editor and create a method with all temperature zones at ambient or turned off. Load this method and allow the P&T to begin to cool. This will allow the system to cool while still under a clean purge gas environment, ensuring that contamination from ambient air does not occur.
- Once cool, power off the P&T system and shut off purge gas flow. If you are using a nitrogen generator for purge gas supply, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper shutdown.
- Open your GC-MS software and initiate a vent cycle on the MS. This will get the source and quadrupole cooling in preparation for venting and powering off the MS.
- Set your inlet temperature to ambient or turn off the heater. This will ensure that the inlet is cooled under flow of clean carrier gas, and not exposed to any atmospheric contaminants while hot.
- Similarly, set the MS transfer line to ambient or turn off, if not already done so by the vent cycle.
- Once all zones are cool, and the MS is vented, power down the GC and MS and shut off carrier gas flow. If you are using a hydrogen generator for carrier gas supply, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper shutdown.
- Remove the column and cap both ends. Store the column in a cool, dry location.
- Cap the GC inlet, MS transfer line, or other detector inlet if applicable.
Once you return to work and are ready to restart the system, the following procedures may be followed for best results:
- This would be a great opportunity to perform preventative maintenance on the P&T. Consider replacing the analytical trap, the syringe (if equipped) and sparger. You could also perform any other low-priority repairs, such as replacing kinked tubing, scratched/damaged glassware, or parts with intermittent failures.
- Reestablish purge gas flow to the P&T, and power on the unit(s). If using a generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Reload your P&T method to reset all gas flows and temperatures.
- Once GC-MS is operational, consider loading a P&T sequence of 10 or more reservoir blanks, which can assist in conditioning the new analytical trap as well as the GC column. Once the baselines are settled and blanks are reproducible, normal analysis may be resumed.
- Take this opportunity to also perform preventative maintenance on your GC-MS system. Consider replacing the split vent filter, as well as the column (if needed/not properly stored) and performing full inlet maintenance. Change out the rough pump oil, clean the source, and replace filaments.
- (Re)install the column and reinitiate carrier gas flow. If using a generator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Power on the GC-MS and initiate the pump down-cycle on the MS.
- Reload you GC method to reset the temperatures of all zones to their operating conditions.
- Allow MS to stabilize and tune if necessary.
I hope these tips help you rest assured your laboratory is safe during your absence and your laboratory is back up and running as quickly as possible with little to no issues when you return. And remember, our customer support team is always available to assist. They can be reached by email, TekmarSupport@Teledyne.com.
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