The new learning system enables schools, higher education institutions and companies to make chromatography and the associated automation of production processes more comprehensible to pupils, students and apprentices. The modular system can be used to model chromatographic processes in detail and simulate different scenarios. The chromatography learning system was developed by ADIRO Automatisierungstechnik GmbH and the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences with the support of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH.
Chromatography is a laboratory technique used to separate mixtures into their constituents using glass tubes (chromatographic columns) packed with a special material. Due to their different properties, the various constituents of a given mixture travel at different speeds, causing them to separate. Chromatography is used in many areas of biotechnology such as the production of biopharmaceuticals, where it is used to remove contamination that arises during the production process; in the field of environmental analytics it is used to identify environmental toxins in a water sample, as chromatography separates the constituents so that they can be identified and measured.
“Nowadays, chromatography is usually an automated process, which renders handling and control increasingly complex,” Klaus Kronberger, CEO of Esslingen-based ADIRO Automatisierungstechnik GmbH, explains. “Our learning system makes laboratory automation easier to understand.” The new chromatography learning system was presented to the public at the recent ACHEMA trade fair in Frankfurt. Klaus Kronberger, Prof. Dr. Winfried Linxweiler and Prof. Dr. Andreas Scheibe from the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences wanted to use the trade fair to find out what students and apprentices thought about the learning system and which universities and companies were open to using it. A prototype of the system is already being used as a teaching tool at Esslingen University of Applied Sciences. “Where it has been highly successful,” Linxweiler said, clearly delighted with the potential of the new system.
“It is becoming increasingly important to understand the details of such procedures,” said Dr. Ralf Kindervater, CEO of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH, going on to add “and this means that all individual steps need to be seen close up.” This is precisely what ADIRO’s chromatography learning system offers. Detailed understanding is essential because it will help us move away from petrochemical processes. “As the situation stands at the moment, the only people aware of chromatography are experts but in future anybody will be able to understand and use the technique,” Kindervater predicts, pointing out that chromatography is an intelligent method for isolating desired substances from liquid solutions used in the field of biotechnology. Chromatographic separation can be used to isolate photosynthetically active dyes from plant leaves, which can subsequently be used in dye solar cells for producing energy, to name but one example.