CHEMonkey – Automated Column Chromatography

The Challenge

Jerry works in a chemistry lab at Imperial College London. When he purchases or synthesises new compounds, he always purifies them to ensure he’s working with the right stuff. He purifies using column chromatography, but unfortunately his compounds are colourless meaning he has to collect all the fractions leaving the column and test them manually. It can take 3 hours to test all the fractions. He came to HackScience, looking for an automated way to test and collect the right fractions. The commercial version of such a machine costs $15,000+.

The Solution

The CHEMonkey team created an automated system for detection in collection in just a weekend! The detector easily retrofits into a current chromatography column, by simply replacing the tap on the column with a new tap which has a sensor embedded. The collector rotates and collects the solutions leaving the column depending on the signal from the detector. The team elegantly demonstrated the concept with the detection and collection of some freshly brewed tea flowing through the setup!

3 Hours per purification saved

$15,000 saved

Meet The Team

The CHEMonkey team leveraged their combined chemistry and electronic engineering backgrounds to build a functioning prototype in just one weekend. The future is bright for this newly-formed team!

The Future

CHEMonkey is currently being remade from PTFE, in order to be solvent-resistant. The visible light LED and detector are also being replaced for UV equivalents

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