Friday, November 30, 2018

What's your favorite kind of prep chromatography system?

From the inbox, a request from a longtime friend of the blog who needs to choose between two kinds of flash chromatography systems (edited for privacy and clarity): 
Please do you know any colleagues who can share their impression on recent LC flash silica models from Biotage - and from Buchi? 
The first option that they are pitching us is a Biotage Isolera Prime. So this is their economy model with 1 wavelength UV detector and single rack fraction collector, for $15,200.  
The second option is slightly used Buchi Reveleris X2-UV, which is a mid-range model, with dual wavelength UV detector and two rack fraction collector, and supposedly better pumps, for $21,600.  
Personally, I would feel lot more comfortable with Teledyne-ISCO but I cannot choose it. I have had unpleasant experience with clunky Biotage models a very long time ago so I am biased but it is probably not relevant. The Buchi system looks similar to Combiflash. But I have seen that Buchi also sometimes does not make great products (for example their teflon vacuum pumps and automated vacuum control boxes, designed as knock-off of KNF pumps, used to be a major weakness of the Buchi rotovaps)
I haven't loved the Revelaris systems that I have seen/worked with, but I'm probably biased. The Biotage systems that I worked with a long time ago were just fine. Readers, your thoughts?  


  1. I was choosing between exactly those two models and went with the Isolera Prime. Haven't had any problems with it the past 3 years.

  2. I have used the newer Isco's and a really old model, as well as the new Isolera and I can say without a doubt that the Biotage system is significantly easier to use and has less software bugs than the two Isco's I used. As a matter of fact, I really hated the Isco systems (which is the one I used first), and I hated the Isco even more when I used the really old model (forget what it was called). They had so many problems for me and my colleagues.

    I kind of like to describe it as Isco is to Varian/Agilent NMR's user interface as Biotage is to Bruker.

  3. We have the Isolera Prime and it works great.

  4. I've used higher end versions of both models, greatly preferred the Biotage. The Grace/Buchi has been much more temperamental and has a lot of odd design choices.

  5. Having danced the ISCO/Biotage/Buchi(Grace) dance the greatest advantage in the Buchi is the ELSD detector (which your not getting), but we have run into issues. Those better pumps have given us priming issues which, along with other issues, have required service calls. I would recommend a service contract if you go the Buchi route, and they have good service people who have done well by us. After fixing things they seem to have held up better.

    Buchi acquired this business from WR Grace which supposedly still provides the silica for their columns. Some in our group believe strongly that the Buchi low end silica is superior to other low end silica cartridges. I did not notice a difference, but I wasn't facing a challenging separation at the time. You can use ISCO/Biotage/Buchi columns on any system in my experience. You might need an adapter piece available as sometime the lure lock threads on the Buchi columns haven't been molded just right.

    Our ISCO and Biotage systems have been nigh on indestructible and taken a great deal of use without complaint. I have a soft spot for the Biotage samplet loading, but from time to time we would get a Biotage column with a defective cap (the top unscrews to insert the samplet) that would leak. The remedy is finding another cap from a previously used column or yet to be used column and then use the cap again.

    Also on the racks. The Biotage "rack" is a tray with 4 racks on it. Each 18x150 tube rack holds 28 tubes for a total of 112 tubes per tray. Each Buchi rack hold 60 18x150 tubes or 120 tubes over two racks (+8 tubes to Buchi). 16x150 Biotage 35 per rack x 4 = 140 tubes per tray vs Buchi 84 x 2 rack = 168 per two racks (+18 tubes to Buchi). There are some larger scale options for the Biotage (~500 mL jars), but I don't know about Buchi. I like the Biotage racks because we frequently only use one or two of the smaller racks for a purification and they are easier to take, and still leave racks for others to use.

    I would go the Biotage route unless the dual wavelength detector on the Buchi is going to be a game changer for your compounds. You probably did this already, but be sure to price out added racks (more of the same size or different sizes) and most commonly used columns if you need them. Lean on your sales reps to see if they might be able to cut you a better deal on the whole package.

    1. I'm pretty sure our Biotage allows for two wavelengths, I obviously forget now, but Isco definitely allows for two wavelengths.

  6. Never used the Buechi, but higher-end versions of the Isolera are great. I actually prefer it to the similar range ISCO, but there's not much in it.

  7. Is it true that the Grace Reveleris X2 series will be withdrawn from market, which is why they have these 50% off discounts now?


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