Flowcells are used in autoanalyzers whether Segmented Flow Analysis (SFA) sometimes referred to as Continuous Flow Analysis (CFA) or Flow Injection Analysis (FIA). The purpose of the flowcell is to allow the reagents to flow through a continual cuvette so that the spectrometer can simultaneously shine through the liquid and determine concentration based on the intensity of the color via a photodiode detector.
These same chemicals are very hard on the glass that holds the liquids inside the flowcell. Ammonia analysis tends to turn the glass yellow and the chemicals used for phosphate tends to turn it blue for example. Many if not most chemistries have some chemical effect, even if to pit the glass and make it “sticky” for bubbles or diminish the light transparency of the flowcell.
The advantage to the original Alpkem design that OI Analytical continues to use on their current systems is that it can be refurbished in a way that recreates a brand new flowcell without a costly replacement. Many flowcells in use today are permanent glass flowcells that cannot be refurbished or repaired and in fact have tendencies to break as they age and as they are handled by operators. The Alpkem design allows for the windows to be removed, cleaned and/or replaced if required without a costly replacement of the entire flowcell. The seals can also be replaced since they tend to age over time and lose their elasticity. Also always polish the inside of the pathway to help eliminate bubble sticking as well as clean out the insides of the flowcell surface. At EZkem a complete refurbishment of a flowcell including all new windows and seals is only $95 instead of $550 for a new flowcell.
Once this process of refurbishment is complete the flowcells are basically brand new and for a small amount of money able to extend the life of a flow detector for many years of operation. It is a simple and inexpensive way to extend the life of your autoanalyzer so that it continues to put out valid easy results for many years past the so called manufacturer’s stated life span of the instrument.
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