Dordt receives grant for chemistry equipment

Lydia Marcus-Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Conference Memorial National College Grant Program (PitCon) awarded Dordt College $10,000 toward the purchase of a gas chromatograph.

“PitCon looks for things that will impact a large number of students,” said chemistry professor Dr. Carl Fictorie, who wrote the PitCon grant proposal.

“I pitched ideas for labs the new GC would allow us to do with [general chemistry], engineering chemistry and chemical analysis classes, which would impact about 180 students each year.”

Gas chromatograph (GC) is a machine used to separate and analyze compounds that can be vaporized. GC’s can be used to test the purity of a substance or determine the composition of a mixture.

The GC Dordt currently owns is 14 years old, and it’s showing its age.

“The basic technology of GC’s is no different now [than in 2003], really,” Fictorie said. “The basic concept has not changed, but the software has.”

There is no longer a computer that will run to GC software, and without the software, the GC cannot do much data analysis.

Dordt STEM students may use the GC for anything from analyzing the purity of synthesized biodiesel to comparing the efficiency of distillation techniques. The new GC will also have an auto-sampler, a device that loads samples automatically. The auto-sampler will allow the machine to analyze multiple samples per run, a feature chemistry students everywhere can appreciate. Instead of trekking to the lab to load a new sample every few hours, students will be able to load all their samples and let the machine run overnight or even throughout the day.

The new GC will be ready to use next fall, when the Science and Technology Building’s renovations are complete.

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