Helium vs. Hydrogen
An alternative carrier gas for GC

The global shortage of helium has forced laboratories worldwide to consider the viability of alternative carrier gases for their gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analyses.

​Hydrogen is one promising alternative that is both renewable and low cost. However, despite its proven success across many GC/MS applications, the use of hydrogen comes with persisting concerns that have hindered its implementation in many labs. These include the:

  • Safety of the gas
  • Reduced performance compared to helium
  • Length and cost of the transition process​

The below hub provides you with all the resources needed to help simplify the switch from helium to hydrogen carrier gas, outlining how Agilent Technologies is well positioned to address this daunting transition with its portfolio of products, consumables, and services.​

Helium conservation module

Converting to alternative carrier gases is not always convenient or even possible – including high-sensitivity or regulated methods. In these cases, helium conservation can be pursued. Configuring your GC systems with a programmable helium conservation module can significantly reduce your helium consumption. The module promises to provide better control of laboratory operating expenses, less workflow disruption, greater reliability, and more.

Use this tool to determine how much you can save when you reduce your helium consumption using Agilent Gas Saver, with or without an optional helium conservation module.​

HydroInert source

For methods that allow for more flexibility, GC users can consider alternative carrier gases. The HydroInert source for hydrogen carrier gas has been designed to improve chromatographic efficiencies with hydrogen by minimizing unwanted in-source reactions, preserving spectral fidelity for confident library matches, and allowing consistent use of multiple reaction monitoring transitions that were developed using helium.

Watch this animation to find out how to make a seamless transition to hydrogen carrier gas, and explore the resources below to gain insight into whether the HydroInert is the right fit for your GC applications:

Intelligent GC/MS technology

With proven reliability and analytical sensitivity, even for complex matrices, GC/MS solutions from Agilent Technologies continue to push the boundaries of innovation, and the Agilent 5977C single quadrupole GC/MS and 7000E Triple Quadrupole GC/MS are no exception.  ​These workhorse instruments are compatible with the new HydroInert source, enabling researchers to get the highest quality results with hydrogen carrier gas across a wide range of industry applications. Explore below for more information on how these systems can aid throughput and sample turnaround time for your applications.

The 5977A GC/MSD, 5977B GC/MSD, 7000C GC/MS, and 7000D GC/MS are also compatible with the HydroInert source.

Hydrogen carrier gas services and support

If you are looking to switch your carrier gas from helium to hydrogen, there are many things that need to be considered, including new filters, a different cleaning regime, new column dimensions, and re-validated methods. The good news is Agilent Crosslab Services are positioned to help you with all of this, and beyond. From start-up services, financial solutions, and method development and transfer, the team’s expertise can provide you with everything needed to get you started and make your measurements more accurate, sustainable, and cost-efficient.

Applications using hydrogen carrier gas

While helium is always the ideal choice of carrier gas for GC/MS analysis, its high price and reoccurring shortages have increased demand for applications using hydrogen instead. ​​Researchers have seen success in several real-world analyses – including semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – and this list of applications is expanding with the increased use of hydrogen gas as an alternative. ​​

Explore the resources below that outline several successful applications using hydrogen: ​

*Certain images and/or photos on this page are the copyrighted property of 123RF.com, its contributors or its licensed partners and are being used with permission under the relevant license. These images and/or photos may not be copied or downloaded without permission from 123RF.com. Other images courtesy of Agilent Technologies.