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Introduction to Gas Chromatography

Introduction to Gas Chromatography


There are many different types of chromatography. Chemists typically use gas chromatography (GC) to identify organic compounds. Forensic scientists and other specialties use gas chromatography for drug tests, toxin screens, and environmental analysis.

In this laboratory experiment, your students will use the Vernier mini-GC system to analyze a series of compounds and identify an unknown based on its retention time.  No calculations are required.


    This U-PIK will include enough materials for four student groups.  Suggested group size is 4-5 students.  The U-PIK will include the following:


    • 4 mini-GC Vernier units
    • 4 LabQuest 2 interfaces
    • 5 1-uL glass GC syringes
    • 4 boxes of Kimwipes
    • 5 sets of known standards (methanol, propyl acetate, butyl acetate, 2-butanone [MIK], 4-methyl-2-pentanone [MIBK])
    • 5 samples of an unknown mixture

    The mini-gas chromatography system can be easily used to support the concept of boiling point.  The unknown samples will have retention times based on their boiling points.  Typically, higher boiling points will lead to higher retention times.


    The GC system also can be introduced when discussing separation of mixtures.    


    Time:  One laboratory session.  


    Student Level: 

    INTERMEDIATE (Grades 9-12)

  • GC User Manual

  • Lab Experiment: Preview Document

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