Leak Detection within Biotechnology Laboratories

Leak checks to analytical laboratory equipment promotes good laboratory practice and preventative maintenance offering a number of benefits including; improvements to analytical performance, minimising troubleshooting, and the prevention of damage to columns and sensitive detectors. Gas leaks can cause significant losses of expensive high-quality gas, shortened trap and purifier lifetimes, increased column bleed, and increased system and detector maintenance. Many problems can be minimised by leak checking a complete analytical system.

Pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies use gases in a wide range of applications across all stages of the production chain – from research, development and quality control to production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and final drugs. Industrial gases are essential to the development of modern medicines and the production of pharmaceutical packaging.

Pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies use many variants of gas and chemicals – from high purity gases in the laboratory to process gases in production processes such as chemical synthesis, sterilisation gases and gases to grow biological cultures. Research, development, production and quality control laboratories all use gas-consuming analytical instruments such as gas or liquid chromatographs, nuclear magnetic resonances or mass spectrometry.

Speciality Gases

The development of new pharmaceutical drugs relies heavily on modern laboratory equipment in which speciality gases are essential. Speciality gases are gases which are rare or more usually gases of an extremely high purity (over 99.9%).

Some of the key gases used are:

  • Nitrogen and The Noble gases – inert gases such as helium (He), Neon (Ne) and argon (Ar) in addition to nitrogen (N) are often used as carrier gases in laboratories as they are unreactive. Inert gases are commonly used in cryogenics and to preserve specimens. Reactions are often carried out within an inert gas environment in order to limit the risk of fire.
  • Carbon dioxide – Carbon dioxide (CO2) – is used to make dry ice which can be used in cryogenic applications and is also widely used as a laboratory gas in mass spectrometers and chromatography machines.
  • Oxygen – Enriched oxygen (O2) – is also used in gas production and gas mixing stations

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