August 26, 2016, by Charlotte Anscombe
First chemical reaction takes place at Nottingham’s green lab
The first chemical reaction has taken place at the GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry (CNL) .
The momentous experiment was carried out by undergraduate project student – Lisa Morrison along with Ana Santos and Margarida Trindade, both PhD students in Chemistry at the University.
The group, which is led by Professor Peter Licence, Director of the CNL, is particularly interested in the development of new chemistries that employ so-called ionic liquids, a class of alternative solvents that have the potential to deliver more efficient reactions with a greatly reduced environmental impact.
Ana said: “This first reaction was to synthesise an ionic liquid, a salt that is liquid at room temperature! Unlike more traditional salts like rock salt (or table salt) which doesn’t melt until it temperature exceeds 800 °C!
“Salts are made of positive and negatively charged ions, most simple salts are solids, but by playing with the shapes and structures of the individual ions, we can manipulate their physical and chemical properties and make them useful for a range of applications including as electrolytes in batteries, solar cells and as solvents.”
“This ionic liquid that we made will be investigated as an electrically conducting solvent that may find use in electronic components like capacitors and sensors. This class of ionic liquids in particular has been found to be less toxic than many other commonly electrolytes, which is clearly important if we are to reduce the impact of electronic devices.”
Professor Licence said: “The CNL aims to have a negligible carbon footprint over the first 25 years of its existence. The state-of-the-art laboratories, will house up to 150 co-workers, and is principally constructed from renewable materials, most notably engineered timber.
“The building offers highly efficient laboratory facilities that are almost entirely powered by renewable energy, providing an environment that offers world-class facilities with as small a carbon footprint as is possible. This first reaction is very exciting for us, as it’s the first step towards creating something really special with potential impact to everyone of us that uses mobile electronic devices.”