Switching to Onsite Hydrogen Leads to Better Results

Lab practitioners require a reliable carrier gas.

Lab practitioners require a reliable carrier gas. Helium is traditionally used as a gas chromatography (GC) carrier gas, but the dwindling supply of this gas is forcing laboratories to spend more and risk a missed delivery of this limited gas.

A growing number of labs are looking for a more reliable and less expensive solution than helium. On-site manufactured hydrogen is now the only carrier gas that can provide higher reliability and faster results at minimal costs.

A hydrogen generator coupled with a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyzer can reliably and safely generate a continuous supply of ultra-pure hydrogen at a lower cost compared to the cost of delivered helium.

Faster Results with On-Site Hydrogen

The fastest GC results can be achieved using hydrogen carrier gas. The van Deemter equation, which predicts the optimum speed at which there will be the least variance per unit column length, reveals that the flow rate of hydrogen can be more compared to that of helium.

The equation also confirms that hydrogen can separate peaks as efficiently as helium.

Faster Results with On-Site Hydrogen

With hydrogen, our columns last longer. The traditional GC run is 140-160 minutes. But by switching to hydrogen and using high-efficiency columns, you can get run time down to 40 minutes. We’ve reduced the time of our GC runs by 25 percent, and that helps production.

Bruce Williams, Senior Technical Advisor at Intertek

Safety On-Site

Not all hydrogen options are created equal. Labs that use hydrogen gas cylinders struggle to store these potentially explosive cylinders. There is also the added expense of meeting stringent safety regulations.

A safer option would be to produce hydrogen gas on-site. A single, standard hydrogen cylinder containing 6,300 liters of gas has the explosive potential of 35 lbs. of TNT. A better option would be a Proton OnSite® hydrogen generator which contains less than three liters of hydrogen gas at any given time.

As the Proton OnSite hydrogen generator contains considerably less hydrogen, it cannot create the 4% hydrogen/air mix required for a space to become explosive. A lab space would still be safe even if Proton’s largest ‘lab server’ scale (19 SLPM) generator is left unchecked.

Safety On-Site Hydrogen Generation

Safety concerns led us to install a Proton OnSite hydrogen generator, and the tangible benefits immediately became clear. We were able to reduce the amount of flammable gas volume in our building by more than 90 percent. It also freed up precious floor space and reduced physical injury risks associated with moving and connecting heavy cylinders, as well as reduced the time lost handling cylinders and changing regulators.

Safety Expert at a Lading Academic Research Institution

One Lab Server to Many Lab Systems

Generators are ideal for laboratories that have to provide carrier gas to a number of systems simultaneously. It can be logistically challenging for laboratories that use cylinders to support several systems, especially when cylinders are collectively used by many departments. On the other hand, generators can serve as a hydrogen gas server, using a single generator to operate many systems.

Proton OnSite S Series generator

We would have had to purchase 20 small generators to meet our lab’s demands and that would take up precious bench space. But a single Proton OnSite S Series generator can produce as much as 18 SLPM of hydrogen, and even though we have 50 GC systems running, we usually only need between 11 and 15 SLPM of gas, so we certainly have room to grow.

Senior Lab Specialist at a Leading International Chemical Manufacturer

Purer Gas for Better Results

The generators made by Proton OnSite use advanced hydrogen gas purification, which is ideal for applications requiring an ultra-pure carrier gas. For instance, GC applications analyze samples to such a high degree that even the smallest contaminant will influence the results.

Hydrogen gas is 99.9999 percent pure when an on-site generator is coupled with Proton’s advanced gas purification. This enables the hydrogen carrier gas to produce excellent results.

How On-Site Generation Works

The hydrogen generation systems from Proton OnSite use a platinum catalyst and Proton Exchange Membrane technology to separate deionized water into its constituent parts.

When a DC voltsge is applied to the electrolyzer, water molecules at the anode are oxidized to protons and oxygen, while electrons are discharged. The protons (H+ ions) travel via the PEM to the cathode where they encounter electrons from the other side of the circuit, reducing to hydrogen gas.

On-site hydrogen generation

Hydrogen as a GC carrier gas requires high purity due to the fact that water and oxygen in even trace amounts may damage the GC column stationary phase (PDMS) resulting in bad peak shape and excessive column bleed. Therefore the use of ultrahigh purity (UHP, 99.999+%, 5.0) gas generated by an ultra-high purity hydrogen generator is strictly advised.

Yasin Hardi, GC-MS Specialist, Chromtech

Why Proton OnSite Technology

Proton OnSite has over 15 years of experience in producing commercially successful hydrogen generators. The company is the world's largest supplier of hydrogen gas generators, and it has deployed it's technology on every continent in a variety of environments, such as refueling stations, power plants, military bases, and semiconductor manufacturing facilities.

Ongoing research and development efforts have delivered reliable systems, which have evolved from aerospace and military platforms, to generate ultra-pure hydrogen to support key commercial missions. Ultimately, Proton OnSite’s advanced generators give lab technicians a carrier gas that is pure, inexpensive, safe, and produced at the flick of a switch.


This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Proton OnSite.

For more information on this source, please visit Proton OnSite.


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