Journal of separation science

Modeling gradient elution in countercurrent chromatography: efficient separation of tanshinones from Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge.

PMID 22589157


Countercurrent chromatography (CCC) is a support-free liquid-liquid chromatography using centrifugal fields to hold the liquid stationary phase. CCC has been widely applied in the separation of various natural and synthetic components using a variety of biphasic liquid systems. The related hexane or heptane/ethyl acetate/methanol or ethanol/water biphasic liquid systems demonstrated their significance in CCC. Gradient is difficult in CCC since any composition change in one phase induces a composition change of the other phase to maintain phase equilibrium. This work provides a new insight into linear gradient elution in CCC that is feasible with some biphasic liquid systems such as selected compositions of the hexane/ethyl acetate/ethanol/water systems. The equations modeling solute motion inside the CCC column are proposed. Particular compositions of the liquid system, namely the hexane/ethyl acetate/ethanol/water 8:2:E:W compositions with E + W = 10, were studied from W = 1 to 9. They showed moderate changes in the upper organic phase compositions. The model is tested with the separation of tanshinones from the rhizome of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge. Different linear solvent gradient profiles were experimentally performed between 8:2:5:5 and 8:2:3:7 compositions and the results were evaluated using the proposed model. Five tanshinones including dihydrotanshinone I, cryptotanshinone, tanshinone I, 1,2-dihydrotanshinquinone, and tanshinone IIA have been successfully separated (>95% purities) using a gradient profile optimized by the developed model. The gradient model can be used only with biphasic liquid systems in which one phase shows minimum composition changes when the other phase composition changes notably. This case is not the general case for biphasic liquid systems but can be applied with specific compositions of the quaternary hexane or heptane/ethyl acetate/methanol or ethanol/water most useful CCC liquid systems.

Related Materials

Product #



Molecular Formula

Add to Cart

Dihydrotanshinone I, ≥98% (HPLC)