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Interview with Mote Marine Laboratory
PromoChrom has been collaborating with Mote Marine's Ecotoxicology laboratory to automate water and tissue extractions. To gain deeper insights into their work and learn how they successfully implemented the SPE-03 automated SPE system to improve extraction efficiency, we interviewed James Javaruski, a staff chemist at the Mote Marine Ecotoxicology lab.
Mote Marine Laboratory
What are the types of extraction and challenges that Mote Marine have?
James :"As Mote Marine’s Ecotoxicology laboratory, we focus primarily on water and tissue extractions. Our water extraction used a negative-pressure manifold and C-18 discs. It required a 20mL elution followed by three hours in an evaporator. After this, resuspension to 3mL was necessary. Though this is a fairly standard procedure, it was relatively time consuming and without careful attention, discs could go dry or the exact timing of the wash steps and addition of solvent could vary. This all affected our experimental reproducibility and recoveries.
Main Types of Extraction
Additionally, the discs have become expensive. For our tissue extractions we utilized SPE cartridges in place of discs. Though cheaper than discs, the negative pressure manifold used for this could be inconsistent as well, depending on the number of samples being processed. Additionally, the repetitive addition of sample into the smaller cartridges was time consuming and had the potential for error."
Vacuum Manifold setup
What made you choose the SPE-03 initially?
James:" We looked at multiple automated SPE systems before making our decision. Besides no other SPE system matching the SPE-03 in ease of use, no other system that we came across appeared to be as versatile, flexible and easy to maintain.
From the virtual demonstration that was provided, we were interested in the simplicity of it. The SPE-03 allowed us to add a variety of sample containers to catch the eluent, which was extremely important. It also is able to draw sample from nearly any size sampling bottle, from our 50mL containers to our 1L containers. It effectively rinses each size, ensuring any possible target compounds are washed to the bottom and drawn up into the instrument. Each side (set of 4 samples) was handled by a single motor, reducing the number of parts that would eventually need maintenance.
Water samples mounted on the SPE-03 rack
The SPE-03 neatly stores 6 1L solvent bottles on top, reducing the sprawl that some equipment is prone to. It was nearly fully self-cleaning, with our techs only needing to wipe the outside of the straw used to pull up sample. It makes a clear sound once its cycle is complete, but each step can be seen on the main screen as well, so you always know where it is in the extraction process. It has the capability to blow nitrogen through the cartridges with an easily regulated pressure to ensure dryness.
SPE-03 8-Chanel SPE System
Though we were initially hesitant to go with a relatively new company (founded in 2007, I believe) as compared to one that has been around for decades, their customer service, attention to detail and pride in their product convinced us that while they may not have yet been around for long, they’re likely to be around and able to provide support for a long time to come.
Finally, when sending us the instrument information, there was a clear breakdown of the cost of each part, allowing us the option to service the instrument ourselves, if we so desired. In a world where companies seem to be moving away from that model, it was a welcome sight."
Mote Marine Ecotoxicology laboratory
How has the SPE-03 helped?
James:" The Promochrom SPE-03 and its positive-pressure design have been absolutely wonderful. Due to the exactness of the instrument, we were able to substantially refine our methods which has resulted in significant cost savings in both staff-hours and consumables.
Improving efficiency with customization
Though it did not come with an adapter for small vials, we were easily able to fabricate one out of a wood block and slip it into the instrument due to the openness of the design. With this adjustment, we were able to reduce our elution volumes from 20mL directly to our sought-after final volume of 3mL. This eliminated the need for a heatbath and nitrogen evaporation step, saving a substantial amount of time in the extraction process. When vials are compared, each sample is eluted to exactly the same volume.
Water sample extraction by SPE-03
Consistent and reproducible
The SPE-03 has resulted in more consistent and reproducible results and as it handles the entire process from extraction through to elution with no transfers needed between, the potential for swapped samples has been nearly eliminated. Due to its capability to handle 8 samples at a time, we are able to run two sets of triplicates, a blank and a standard recovery with every run.
Reduced time and costs, improved efficiency
As this also reduced a transfer step, we were able to reduce our project prep time by 25% and overall extraction time (if including the evaporation step) by nearly 60%. It has decreased the amount we spend on consumables by 40% and the amount of solvent used by 25%. It has minimized glassware that needs to be cleaned, freeing up our technicians to do more important work.
Mote Marine Laboratory
"We were able to reduce our project prep time by 25% and overall extraction time (if including the evaporation step) by nearly 60%."
Overall, due to the Promochrom SPE-03, we can process more samples quicker and cheaper than ever before.
I recommended this system often due to its robustness, reliability and the fact that it can be operated by nearly anyone. It is perfect for a lab that has undergraduate students as well."
James and the team members at Mote Marine Lab
What will be the future developments at your lab?
James:"Due to the ease of method development using the SPE-03, we’ll be continuing to refine existing methods. Additionally, we’ll be seeking to expand into other tissue, water and aerosolized contaminants and biotoxins."