Thar expands SFC business with Berger acquisition

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supercritical fluid Solvent

Thar Instruments has bought Berger SFC from Mettler Toledo to
expand its SFC capabilities and achieve 'critical mass' in a market
that is growing as pharma looks for greener separation options.

According to Thar, the merger will bring the majority of the world's SFC design and fabrication expertise under one roof giving the company a unique position from which to further the presence of the technology in the market.

Supercritical Fluid Chromatography (SFC) is a form of normal phase chromatography where the mobile phase is a supercritical fluid - most commonly supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2).

SFC can reduce the amount of solvent needed to conduct a separation by over 80 per cent and pharmaceutical companies are increasingly turning to the technique in an effort to reduce costs as well as their usage of organic solvents that impact on their 'green' credentials.

"The pharmaceutical R&D market currently purchases the vast majority of SFC systems but we plan to pursue new markets such as petrochemicals, natural products and agricultural chemicals for starters...but the possibilities are nearly endless," Todd Palcic, vice president of Thar Instruments told

Thar first entered the SFC laboratory market in 2004, with the introduction of its SuperDiscovery SFC system that built on the company's experience in larger scale SFC systems.

The merger will strengthen Thar's position in the SFC market against its major competitors of Selerity Technologies, Novasep and Jasco .

"The combination of Berger SFC and Thar Instruments will result in a fully integrated SFC instrumentation company that will have the necessary critical mass to further penetrate the rapidly developing analysis and purification market, while providing competent support and service to customers around the world," said Dr Lalit Chordia, CEO of Thar.

SFC has the advantages of being between up to five times faster than high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) as well as the 'solvent' evaporating as soon as it exits the instrument and is depressurised.

One of the major stumbling blocks of the technology had been the poor solubility of polar compounds in the apolar sCO2; however this problem can be avoided by adding in a small amount of a co-solvent such as methanol.

This discovery has meant that the technology is of far more use to pharmaceutical companies as the high resolution of the technology makes it very suitable for separating chiral compounds and natural products.

"We are very excited about our new employees and look forward to integrating the talented members of the team who have expertise in software, chromatography, mass spectrometry and engineering.

The Thar products are quite strong and robust, but the Berger acquisition brings Thar some customers that were previously impenetrable," said Palcic.

"Furthermore, it allows Thar to generate significant revenue from service and spare parts."

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