Optimize Liquid-Liquid Extraction: Embrace Automation

Ever found yourself frustrated with the inconsistencies in your analyte extraction results? Does the repetitive nature of manual liquid-liquid extraction leave you fatigued? Has managing large sample sizes ever seemed like a bottleneck in your workflow?

If these questions resonate with your experiences, you are not alone. Whether you are engaged in MTBE, BUME, or even Bligh & Dyer, join us as we delve into challenges researchers encounter with manual extraction and the promising solutions offered by automation, focusing on methods including but not limited to Bligh & Dyer.

Bligh and Dyer Workflow using Liquid-Liquid Extraction:

       

This figure highlights the workflow of the Bligh and Dyer method. All steps mentioned are automated on the VERSA 1100 except for the centrifugation step which involves manual intervention.

 

Challenges with Manual Bligh and Dyer

How are they overcome by VERSA 1100?
Inconsistency and Variability:

Due to human errors, variations in pipetting techniques can lead to inconsistent results affecting the reproducibility of the experiment.

  • 4-channel or multi-channel pipette head with a dynamic volume range of 1-1000 µL ensuring the accurate aspiration/dispense of solutions.
  • With a CV of <5% for 1 µL, the VERSA can accommodate protocols in the microliter (internal standard/reconstitution solvent) and milliliter (organic layer transfer) ranges.
Labor Intensity and Time consumption:

A human performing repetitive tasks can deal with fatigue and increased chances of error.

  • Can perform repetitive tasks with the same accuracy no matter how long the protocol is or the amount of times you have to repeat it.
  • For high throughput labs that may need overnight runs, a 24-hour operational test is conducted.
Safety Concerns:

Performing lipid extraction using LLE manually can expose researchers to strong organic vapors for example when performing nitrogen drying over chloroform.

  • Once drying the organic phase (chloroform), the VERSA enclosure is sealed so that it minimizes the risks of strong vapor exposure by ensuring a controlled environment.
  • VERSA contains an exhaust system that collects the harmful vapors and direct them towards the facility’s ventilation system.

 

Scalability Issues:

Scaling up the extraction process can be challenging especially when dealing with a large number of samples.

10-15mL test tubes:

  • Can be accommodated on racks arranged in a 4×6 formation allowing for the handling of 24 samples at once.
  • On average, 3 of the racks are handled in one run which comes to 72 samples.
  • A typical 8 hour working day would include at least 3 full runs of the lipid extraction protocol totaling 216 samples.
  • The VERSA can be equipped with a 24-channel nitrogen dryer to handle 24 samples at once.

96-deep well plates:

  • Can accommodate 2 of those 96-well plates which equates to 192 samples in one run.
  • The VERSA can be equipped with a 96-channel nitrogen dryer.

 

Tip compatibility:

Our team is committed to quality assurance with respect to tip compatibility with strong solvents like chloroform. We have conducted rigorous testing which involved exposing our tips to various concentrations of chloroform to replicate real-world laboratory scenarios. Our testing highlighted that during the quick transfer of chloroform using our compatible tips, resulted in low to no interference. The VERSA 1100 also ensures low risk of cross contamination by disposing tips in a tip chute that is part of the deck after every transfer.

 

In conclusion, the manual Bligh and Dyer method has historically posed challenges in lipidomics, characterized by inconsistency, labor intensity, safety concerns and scaling issues. However, with the VERSA 1100’s automation technology, these obstacles are overcome to significantly enhance the efficiency and precision of lipid extraction in addition to contributing more accurate and reproducible analysis of lipid profiles. This technological evolution subsequently marks a crucial step forward in lipidomics research paving the way for advancements in health, nutrition and environmental studies.