Before working at CRS, I spent many hours in various laboratories in academia and industry. I conducted some of my more memorable series of experiments in an organic chemistry lab. It was as stereotypical of an o-chem lab as you can imagine—you know, with the solvent cabinets, rotary evaporators, lab hoods with beakers, flasks, and packed columns. If you Google “organic chemistry laboratory,” you would probably get an idea of this place, except it was always dark because the organometallic compounds we synthesized were photoactive.
Specifically, I remember doing classic Williamson Ether Synthesis reactions, using sodium hydride (NaH). It was crucial that these reactions were done in highly inert environments. When using reactive chemicals, such as NaH, I meticulously degassed all the solvents and liquid reagents by bubbling pure nitrogen or argon through the liquid.
Most organic chemistry labs distribute inert gas in the hood using a glass Schlenk line, and mine was no different. The purity of gas flowing through the Schlenk line was critical for my experiments. The presence of water greatly diminishes the reactivity of the NaH, and the presence of oxygen degrades many organic solvents and reagents. Furthermore, it throws stoichiometric balancing out of the window. It causes side reactions to occur, which lowers yield. More detrimentally, those side reactions produce unwanted side products that make separation a nightmare.
CRS gas purifiers have traditionally been used for scrubbing GC carrier gasses to ppbv impurity levels. More and more, we are seeing their use in wet chemistry lab applications. Using ultrahigh purity (UHP) gases simply reduces the number of variables in air-sensitive reaction. It boils down to peace of mind, and the last thing you want to do when troubleshooting an experiment is worry about a lackluster Schlenk line.
For more information on how our gas purifiers remove O2, please check out our blog on “The Fundamentals of Oxygen Scrubbing.”