Detailed numerical analysis of the effect of radial column heterogeneities on peak parking experiments with slowly diffusing analytes

Bram Huygens, Huiying Song, Deirdre Cabooter, Gert Desmet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The origin of the peak skewness that can be observed when applying the deconvolution method to isolate the diffusion process from the flow processes for peak parking experiments conducted under conditions of slow radial equilibration and strong trans-column velocity gradients was investigated. Numerical simulations were carried out for a variety of trans-column velocity profiles and a broad range of experimental conditions and system parameters were investigated. Results show that, under the aforementioned conditions, the traditionally employed variance subtraction method displays a consistent error which follows the dynamics of the diffusive relaxation during both the peak parking and the flow steps. It is also found that, under the same conditions, the peak deconvolution method is bound to produce deconvoluted “parking-only” peaks that are strongly asymmetric, despite the perfectly symmetric nature of the pure diffusion process marking this parking step. It is shown that this asymmetry is acquired during the flow step following the parking stop. During this step, parked and non-parked peaks are deformed in different ways, despite being subjected to the same trans-column velocity profile. This different deformation cannot be filtered away with the deconvolution or the variance subtraction method, hence introducing an error. Solutions to alleviate the peak skewness and the variance error consist of parking the peak close to the inlet or the outlet or exiting the parked peak through the column inlet (flow reversal method). Under the considered conditions, these approaches could reduce the error on the measured effective diffusion coefficient up to 87%. Carrying out the variance subtraction or the deconvolution process with a peak that has also been parked for a substantially long parking time instead of using a “no-parking” peak as is customary done, is another option to counter the effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number462557
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021


  • Deconvolution
  • Effective diffusion coefficient
  • Numerical simulation
  • Peak parking
  • Peak symmetry
  • Radial heterogenity


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