The Perse School

Students see chromatography at work with local specialist Anatune

11 Jun 2014

Our sixth formers received an insight into chromatography this week with a visit to Anatune.

The Girton-based company gave the lower sixth chemists an overview of the technique, which separates compounds to analyse the composition of a substance, and then demonstrated it in the in-house laboratory.

Students were fascinated to learn that chromatography will have been used to test almost everything we consume, either to ensure its safety or as part of product innovation.

Anatune Managing Director Ray Perkins explained:

“Chromatography is the most important means of chemical analysis. As scientists, our job is to provide the means to make robust measurements to build knowledge in many areas. We demonstrated how we can combine different technologies to answer clients’ questions and solve their problems, giving students an insight into the topic of chromatography and also into potential careers in chemistry.”

Case studies discussed included mapping large construction sites to identify contaminated soil, testing drinking water for pollutants, developing food flavouring and isolating aromas. Students were interested to hear that while much of the testing is automated by robots, there is still no substitute for the human nose when it comes to isolating a compound with a particular smell.

Head of Chemistry Dr Tanya Khimyak said:

“We’re very grateful to Anatune for arranging this session. Seeing how chromatography is used to answer every day and often very complex questions will help the students place their studies in context. It was inspiring to hear from the scientists about the importance of cultivating analytical thinking and the use of technology for preparation to free chemists to think.”

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