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Market profile: thermal desorbers.

Although new chromatography systems often receive a great deal of attention and fanfare--and justifiably so--sample preparation plays an equally significant role in the quality of testing results.

One such sampling technique--thermal desorption--is used to extract volatile or semi-volatile compounds from less volatile matrices. In their most basic forms, thermal desorbers heat the sample, which is then carried directly to a gas chromatography column. However, this single-step process presents limitations. The large elution volume needed can lead to poor sensitivity. As a result, most desorbers are multistage instruments, employing a concentrating step before analytes are sent into the analyzer.

Thermal desorbers are widely used for environmental testing, often in the monitoring of air quality. Emission rules set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have provided one important source for thermal desorber demand. Regulations on exposure to chemicals in the workplace, set by government agencies like the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), are another significant testing area. Thermal description is also commonly used to identify fragrances and other ingredients in food, beverages and cosmetics.

More recent applications have stemmed from homeland security concerns. At Pittcon this year, in response to the threat of chemical warfare attacks, CDS Analytical released its Dynatherm 9300, a desorption system capable of testing large quantifies of air. Gerstel also unveiled a new system--a dedicated module for its Twister stir-bar sorptive extraction unit--at Pittcon 2004, although for the most part other sampling techniques seemed more prominent.

Large instrument companies such as PerkinElmer and Thermo Electron often package thermal desorbers with their GCs. In 2002, Agilent signed an agreement to distribute the thermal desorption technology of Markes International in Europe (see IBO 6/ 15/02). Markes's instruments are used to test ambient and indoor air, and industrial emissions. Agilent has also partnered with Gerstel and CDS Analytical to sell desorbers for monitoring organic contaminants in the semiconductor industry, and with Airsense Analytics to provide micro thermal desorption for its portable Micro GC analyzers.

Other thermal desorber sellers include DANI Strumentazione Analitica S.p.A., Korea-based Donam Instruments, Scientific Instrument Services and Teledyne subsidiary Tekmar. Last year, ATAS GL, a subsidiary of GL Sciences, signed a deal to distribute its Direct Thermal Desorber in the US and Canada through LEAP Technologies.

The thermal desorption market has experienced little growth during the last three to five years because of the depressed environmental testing business. Renewed interest in this technology could generate 6% to 8% growth from its current $10 million worldwide base in systems and aftermarket sales.

Thermal Desorbers At A Glance:

Leading Suppliers

* CDS Analytical

* DANI

* PerkinElmer

Largest Markets

* Chemical

* Environmental

* Food and Beverage

Instrument Cost

* $10,000 to $35,000
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Title Annotation:Thermal Desorbers
Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 31, 2004
Words:441
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