Sustainable lab practices - Synthetic Molecular Chemistry shows the way
Normally, the research within the Synthetic Molecular Chemistry (SMC) programme focus on renewable energy solutions. But the researchers themselves are also working towards improving their sustainable practices within the laboratories.
During the last year, they have made substantial efforts to optimize the use of the lab resources.
Researchers Emilie Mathieu and Brian McCarthy started the sustainability initiative out of a concern that, while alternative energy solutions motivate much of the department’s work, many day-to-day laboratory practices could be more sustainable. If these sustainable practices are not followed, a research lab can use up to five times as much energy (per square meter) as a regular office space.
These practices includes fume hood maintenance, using air cooled reflux condensers instead of water cooled based reflux condensers (which may use liters of water each minute, all day). Small vacuum pumps for filtration instead of water aspirators, water recirculation systems for water cooling, and so on, all to reduce water and energy consumption. Ongoing efforts also include replacement of solvent stills with a solvent purification system and considering sustainable practices when writing standard operating procedures (SOP's).
By continuing to take steps towards more sustainable lab practices, the Synthetic Molecular Chemistry program hopes to inspire and motivate other research groups within the department, Ångström Laboratory and other campuses at Uppsala university.