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Vol. 31 No. 3
May-June 2009

Making an imPACt | Recent IUPAC technical reports and recommendations that affect the many fields of pure and applied chemistry.
See also www.iupac.org/publications/pac

Countercurrent Chromatography in Analytical Chemistry (IUPAC Technical Report)
by Alain Berthod, Tatyana Maryutina, Boris Spivakov, Oleg Shpigun, and Ian A. Sutherland
Pure and Applied Chemistry, 2009
Vol. 81, No. 2, pp. 355–387

“Countercurrent chromatography” (CCC) is a generic term covering all forms of liquid-liquid chromatography that use a support-free liquid stationary phase held in place by a simple centrifugal or complex centrifugal force field. Biphasic liquid systems are used, with one liquid phase being the stationary phase and the other being the mobile phase. Although initiated almost 30 years ago, CCC lacked reliable columns. However, the newly designed centrifuges appearing on the market now make excellent CCC columns. This review focuses on the advantages of a liquid stationary phase and addresses the chromatographic theory of CCC. The main difference with classical liquid chromatography (LC) is the variable volume of the stationary phase. There are two different ways to obtain a liquid stationary phase using centrifugal forces: the hydrostatic way and the hydrodynamic way. These two kinds of CCC columns are described and compared. The reported applications of CCC in analytical chemistry and comparison with other separation and enrichment methods show that the technique can be successfully used in the analysis of plants and other natural products, for the separation of biochemicals and pharmaceuticals, for the separation of alkaloids from medical herbs, in food analysis, and so forth. On the basis of the studies of the last two decades, recommendations are also given for the application of CCC in trace inorganic analysis and in radioanalytical chemistry.

Schematic view of the liquid motion in CCC columns.

A—Hydrostatic columns or centrifugal partition chromatographs. There is a single axis of rotation producing constant centrifugal field (G) and no phase exchanges in the connecting ducts.

B—Hydrodynamic columns. There is a variable and cyclic centrifugal field (G) produced by the planetary rotation of the bobbin around its own axis and the central rotor axis. Contact between the two liquid phases occurs throughout the tubing. The mobile phase is pictured in black, and the stationary phase is white.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1351/PAC-REP-08-06-05


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