Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What is the price of HPLC acetonitrile?: 5/4/16 edition

Something that bothers me about spending on lab consumables is that it is very difficult to track the price of certain supplies. The amount of transparency is quite low; with that in mind, I plan to track the price of a 4X4L case of HPLC-grade acetonitrile weekly indefinitely as a public service.

I initially plan to look three places: the Sigma-Aldrich website, EMD-Millipore's site and also P212121, a site of Sean Seaver, a chemblogosphere stalwart. I have also added an unnamed lab supply house:

Sigma-Aldrich (4X4L, HPLC grade, ≥99.9%, 34851-4X4L): $1,150
Unnamed Very Large Supplier (4X4L, HPLC grade, 99.8% min (GC assay)): $190-230
EMD-Millipore (1X4L, HPLC grade, 99.8% min (GC assay), AX0145-1): $288.00*
P212121 (4X4L, HPLC grade, Purity >99.9%, PA-30000HPLCCS4L): $135.00**

*I know that EMD-Millpore offers 4X4L cases, but I can't find them on their public websites.
**There's a minimum of 5 cases. 

Also, there is a University of Wisconsin-Madison datum that shows HPLC MeCN at $46.50 for 4L (thanks, Anon!)


  1. I buy HPLC MeCN and MeOH on a regular basis and I've never had to pay list price -- our supplier gives us a very large discount off of list. If you're unhappy with the price you are getting from your current supplier, talk to a sales rep with another supplier -- you should always be able to find a supplier who will offer you a reasonable price. (What's "reasonable" mean? For starters, I don't consider the list prices for Sigma and EMD above to be anywhere even close to reasonable.) The trouble is that as you say pricing for HPLC solvents is kind of opaque -- I imagine that most customers are not paying the list price, except possibly very small-volume customers who purchase HPLC solvent seldom or rarely.

    1. Yeah, I think I resent the special deals. HPLC acetonitrile should be like gasoline - a commodity chemical with very little pricing differences.

  2. Yes, They are very different. As you mentioned there is no standard pricing. We buy from Fisher Scientific and prices are reasonable for solvents (HPLC) but not for all items. You can check there. Universities normally gets discounted prices. You can also but pre-mixed formic acid for HPLC purpose.

  3. I was under the impression (and please tell me if I'm wrong) that HPLC-grade acetonitrile was a by-product of the polymer industry. This meant that supplies were inconsistent and can vary wildly, and the price reflects this. For example, in my University's chemistry department (a major research-led department in the UK), we occasionally have acetonitrile 'droughts' because Sigma's supply is unreliable.

  4. I just checked prices for the acetonitrile supplier we use (Fisher Scientific). "List" price is $1,629.70 for 4x4L. When I log into my institution's purchasing system, the price for 4x4L is $150.96. That's a discount of over 90.7%! Hard to believe they price it this way. I would love to hear from them how it possibly makes sense to do it this way. Curt F.

  5. Institutions usually are on contract pricing of course you might be getting a deal on acetonitrile but the big guys make up the profit on other products they sell you. We almost always charge our customers $200 a case unless they order one case a year then it's a bit more... Big companies pricing is all over the place depending on volume and of course those customers that log in online and buy at list without s discount. I have been selling solvents for the past 13 years