• Question: Is ur lab eco friend

    Asked by Andrew Whelan to Sinead on 16 Nov 2015.
    • Photo: Sinead Balgobin

      Sinead Balgobin answered on 16 Nov 2015:

      Excellent question Andrew! This is something we really try to strive for, because it’s really important that we don’t do too much damage to the environment during our research. Unfortunately it is quite difficult to do this in chemistry, and in a university research laboratory (we don’t have a lot of money). The water we use comes from rainwater collection tanks on the roof, we wash all of our glassware (some labs throw lots away), and we try to limit the amount of dangerous chemicals we use (and therefore have to dispose of) and try not to get rid of anything down sinks, or out into the atmosphere. It can be unavoidable though, and our first priority is the safety of the people in the lab.

      We are always trying to find new ways to make chemistry more eco friendly though! Since we have to leave lots of our equipment on overnight (as reactions or analysis can happen for days at a a time) it would be a good idea to have forms of renewable energy for the building, like solar panels and small wind turbines that could offer some extra power. The main difficulty is a lack of money, because of the way academic (university) research is funded. All the money is spent on graphene!