The use of organic solvents in laboratories is becoming increasingly expensive as governments continue to push for more environmentally friendly disposal and recycling methods, making the use of large quantities of solvent less economical for separating compounds. This has led to many laboratories looking at ways to reduce their solvent usage, either by using smaller scale analysis systems, recycling solvents or switching to green technologies such as SFC. The 2005 exclusive OEM (original equipment manufacturer) agreement between the two companies has been expanded to give Thar access to Waters' demonstration facilities and corporate R&D resources to help them keep up with the growing demand for SFC/MS products. "The collaboration is designed to put more tools in the scientist's toolbox and combine our expertise in mass spectrometry with Thar's already industry leading SFC systems," said Warren Potts III, senior business manager for pharmaceutical business operations at Waters. SFC uses CO2 (carbon dioxide) that has been compressed into the 'supercritical state' in which it can diffuse through solids like a gas while dissolving materials like a liquid. When used as the mobile phase in chromatography it can give separations similar to those gained using normal phase chromatography but in much reduced time frames. While the upfront costs of buying these SFC/MS systems may be as much as 25 per cent higher, significant savings can be realised during the lifetime of the products as the systems can condense the CO2 directly from the atmosphere meaning that fewer recurring consumables costs are incurred. According to Todd Palcic, vice president of Thar Instruments, presentations made at the SFC 2007 conference in Pittsburgh earlier this week pharmaceutical companies Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), Pfizer, Amgen and Merck suggested that using SFC instruments for analytical separations and analysis could save approximately $25,000 per instrument per year. These savings could grow to $200,000 per instrument per year when conducting preparative scale separations. Currently Waters and Thar are combining Waters' 3100 single quadrupole MS and photodiode array detector with Thar's SFC systems and are focussing on the integration of the techniques with regards to both instrumentation and software. According to Potts the collaboration is also looking at developing applications for the pharmaceutical industry. "If you look at some of the industry reports that look at laboratory SFC, they estimate the market to be worth between $30m to $40m a year for the instrumentation, consumables, software and services," said Potts. "These reports claim that the market is growing at double digits rates a year." Just three months ago, Thar bought one of its major competitors, Berger SFC, from Mettler Toledo to achieve 'critical mass' in this rapidly growing area.