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Construction of Large Volume Monolithic Columns

Monoliths are becoming very attractive stationary phases due to their advantageous hydrodynamic characteristics. The main difference in comparison to conventional particle beds is in their structure. Conventional particle based supports consist of few-micrometer sized porous particles while the monoliths consist of a single piece of porous material. The pores are highly interconnected forming a network of channels. Since the flow of the liquid within the channels is driven by the pressure difference, the molecules to be separated are transported to the active sites located on the surface of the channels by convection increasing their mobility by several orders of magnitude. Because of that, it is possible to perform an efficient separation of large molecules within a very short time. Furthermore, the efficiency as well as the dynamic binding capacity are independent on linear velocity within the range of tested flow rates.

Glycidyl methacrylate based monoliths were introduced in 1990. They were polymerised from glycidyl methacrylate (GMA) and ethylene dimethacrylate (EDMA) in the presence of porogens and an initiator. So far they have been successfully applied in a variety of different applications on an analytical scale: for separation and purification of proteins, DNA, smaller molecules like organic acids, hydroxybenzoates, oligonucleotides and peptides as well as sensors incorporated in a FIA system1.

Preparation of large volume GMA-EDMA monoliths is however problematic. The reason is an increase of the temperature inside the monomer mixture during polymerisation since the reaction is highly exothermic. Because of the bulk polymerisation, temperature increase inside the monomer mixture during the polymerisation can not be avoided, resulting in an extremely inhomogeneous structure of the monolith2. In this work, we introduce an approach for the construction of large scale monoliths in the annulus shape and demonstrate their applicability for chromatographic separation and purification.