What is Gas Chromatography Used for?

Gas chromatography is an analytical technique used to separate and identify components of a complex mixture. The technique is widely used in various fields, including environmental analysis, food and beverage industry, pharmaceuticals, forensic science, and petrochemical industry. In this article, we will explore in detail what gas chromatography is used for, how it works, and its advantages and techniques.


Gas chromatography (GC) is a powerful analytical technique used to separate and identify volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in complex mixtures. The technique is based on the principle that different compounds have different affinities for a stationary phase and a mobile phase. The stationary phase is a coated material inside a column, while the mobile phase is a gas that flows through the column. As the sample mixture is injected into the column, the different components interact with the stationary phase and are separated based on their molecular weight, boiling point, and polarity.

Principles of Gas Chromatography

Gas chromatography is composed of several components, including a gas supply, injection port, column, detector, and data collection system. The gas supply provides the mobile phase, while the injection port is used to inject the sample into the column. The column is where the separation of the sample components occurs, while the detector is used to detect and quantify the separated components. Finally, the data collection system records the signal from the detector and provides a chromatogram, which is a graphical representation of the separated components.

There are two primary types of gas chromatography: gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) and gas-solid chromatography (GSC). In GLC, the stationary phase is a liquid coating on the column, while in GSC, the stationary phase is a solid material coated on the column. GLC is more commonly used due to its higher sensitivity and selectivity, as well as its ability to separate non-volatile compounds. On the other hand, GSC is used for separating compounds with similar boiling points and polarities.