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Pilot project aims to develop greener solvents

green-test-tubeA new pilot plant in Leicestershire will demonstrate how many industrial processes could be made cleaner and greener with ionic liquids.

Ionic liquids are solutions of dissolved substances in which the atoms or molecules have a positive or negative, rather than neutral, electrical charge.

The Ionic Liquids Demonstrator (ILD) project has been developed by a University of Leicester spin-out company, Scionix, and the Leicester Shire Economic Partnership. The project aims to investigate the potential for replacing harsh acidic solvents used in metal-related processes such as electropolishing and electroplating.

Working with and disposing of these acidic solvents currently present many health and safety and environmental issues.

The ionic liquids developed in the ILD will be non-toxic, environmentally friendly and also tuneable to allow for more efficient industrial processes. The project will work with local businesses to encourage the use and explore the benefits of ionic liquid solvents.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to collaborate with local industry and hopefully bring new technology to expand their product ranges,” said Andy Abbott, head of the University’s department of chemistry and director of Scionix. “Our local partnerships have so far been very successful and we would like to extend them using this unit.”

The plant will be officially launched on Wednesday 3 June by the University of Leicester’s Vice-Chancellor Robert Burgess.

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