The Retention Index System

  • Francis I. Onuska
  • Francis W. Karasek


The retention behavior of a compound contains the qualitative information available from gas chromatography. This has long been recognized and stimulated many efforts to establish useful concepts for developing systematic data broadly applicable to analytical problems. The concept of specific retention volume was suggested to make retention data essentially independent of the variable chromatographic parameters.1 Its calculation of the volume of carrier gas reduced to 0 °C required to elute a compound takes into account the column temperature, carrier gas flow rate, column pressure drop, and the amount of liquid phase present. Although it is theoretically correct, specific retention volume is not used in practice because it is awkward to calculate, does not allow for retention changes with temperature, and calls for values that may change. The use of relative retention data is at present the most accepted method. In the determination of relative retention, the retention of both a reference compound and the sample components are determined under identical chromatographic conditions. Since it is almost impossible to establish only one compound to be a reference, a more universal method is needed for wide usage. It is known that under isothermal conditions a plot of the logarithm of the adjusted retention time t′ R versus molecular weight of a homologous series is linear.


Retention Index Retention Data Retention Index Methyl Ketone Specific Retention Volume 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis I. Onuska
    • 1
  • Francis W. Karasek
    • 2
  1. 1.Canada Centre for Inland WaterNational Water Research InstituteBurlingtonCanada
  2. 2.University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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