Green lab upgrade

Queen’s University Belfast has opened a £500,000 laboratory to research the potential of ionic liquids. The university’s Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) has been refurbished to provide suitable accommodation for a £5.25m research contract with Petronas, the Malaysian oil and gas company.

Ionic liquids are salts that are liquid below 100 degree Celsius. Many of the organic solvents used in the chemical industry are hazardous because they are volatile, flammable and toxic. The advantage of using ionic liquids is that they tend to be non-flammable, do not evaporate under normal conditions and do not omit vapours.

The facility is the company’s first academic-based laboratory in Europe and will enable QUILL to expand its research capacity. An extra 20 workspaces have been created and scientists from nine different countries will work on the collaborative research projects.

QUILL director professor Ken Seddon said: ‘Research on ionic liquids has the potential to impact daily lives of everyone in the world, massively reducing industrial pollution, improving working conditions and enhancing job and wealth creation.’

He added: ‘Ionic liquids is a fast moving industry, where research translates into industrial application five times faster than the norm.’

Ionic liquids research at the university is playing a significant role in the International Green Network, which was initiated by a leading group of G8 research ministers and science advisors.’