Posted: April 19, 2010

New laboratory to help chemical revolution

(Nanowerk News) A major new suite of laboratories, to be opened next week, will help scientists in the Green Chemistry group at the University of York to advance research into clean synthesis, catalysis, novel materials and the application of renewable resources.
The Green Chemical Technology Facility, which will be opened on 21 April, is jointly funded by the Wolfson/Royal Society and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme in Yorkshire and The Humber and houses the latest equipment to expand enabling research in:
  • Biomaterials - Using nature's largest volume materials - from starches to straws -- in applications ranging from general purpose boards to switchable adhesives (enabling easy recovery of components at end-of-life) and bio-derived catalysts
  • Clean Synthesis and Platform Molecules - Developing new greener routes to molecules including the use of new reusable catalysts and safer solvents enabling the conversion of new bio-feedstocks into genuinely green and sustainable products
  • Biorefinery Microwave Demonstrator - Studying the effects of microwaves on compounds for the selective conversion of biomass into valuable chemicals, materials and fuels
  • Centre for CO2 Applications - Using liquid and supercritical CO2 as an alternative to conventional organic solvents in a wide range of applications including extraction and fractionation of botanical materials, reactions with conventional or bio-catalysts, product cleaning and production of micro-particles.
  • The new laboratory will house key enabling technologies including the biorefinery microwave demonstrator that will be constructed as part of the facility, along with supercritical fluid extraction and reaction systems, and associated analytical equipment.
    Professor James Clark said: "These technologies will allow us to further our research and help us to accelerate the next chemical revolution. We are working towards the aim of switching to a bio based economy through the development of new carbon efficient sources of energy, and green and sustainable supply chains for chemicals based on platform molecules and clean synthesis."
    The semi-scale biorefinery is one component of a major project application made by Science City York in partnership with the University of York and the Food and Environment Research Agency. The partnership secured £19.7 million of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme in Yorkshire and The Humber. The funding will be used to develop new infrastructures to stimulate R&D and improve regional competitiveness in the life sciences, biotechnology and environmental sectors.
    Professor Nicola Spence, Chief Executive Officer at Science City York, said:
    "This exciting new facility will provide new technologies to research how to produce energy and high value chemicals from biorenewable materials. It is part of a broader strategy to place York as a National leader in Low Carbon research and development. The facility will also be important to regional and National businesses in the growing biorenewables sector."
    Source: University of York