Chromatography for newbies
July 19, 2014 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Chemists! I have a question about chromatography. Specifically, what is the best way to isolate a specific molecule, if I want to produce large volumes of this isolated molecule?

So I will have a mixture which will be about 87% of this one specific molecule. I would like to refine it to over 99% purity. I will be refining about 1 kg of this per day (or 380 kg per year), which should be at an initial volume of around 1 liter, so similar density to water.

I feel like HPLC is the way to go, but I have very little experience with it, and I don't know what kind of volume HPLC can do. I've heard about countercurrent chromatography as well, but I really don't know anything about that.

Level of experience: took some chem in college, remember a decent amount of it.
posted by special agent conrad uno to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is going to be highly dependent on the nature of the molecule itself and the solvent it starts out in. Can you give more information on that?
posted by Tandem Affinity at 2:42 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's cannibidiol, from a plant, and it is undergoing initial extraction in a super critical CO2 system. The resultant solution is about 82-87% CBD, with the remainder being terpenes, waxes, and other plant matter that I want to strip away.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 2:53 PM on July 19, 2014

Distillation, crystallization, and solvent extraction are easier techniques for large volumes. You might look into those first.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:59 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I do not do this kind of chemistry but a quick google shows that the method of purification generally used is outlined in this patent.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:42 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

You have access to a large scale preparative HPLC?
posted by sciencegeek at 5:45 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I do, but I like tchemgrrl's answer a lot - I'd rather use a fractionating or reflux still if possible, and I'm looking into these right now. My day job is gin making, so I'm very comfortable with more traditional extraction and distillation techniques.

That patent is great, and I've read about this method - I did not realize it was invented in 1942!
posted by special agent conrad uno at 6:11 PM on July 19, 2014

Zen, Jr. suggests Search on freebase extractions. Technique needed for this molecule will be different from normal alkaloid extraction because you're working with an alcohol. May involve naptha or hexane.

Disclaimer: Neither of us is a degreed physical or organic chemist.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:28 PM on July 19, 2014

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