Going Waterless - A Major Step Towards Lab Sustainability
7 Oct 2020
The CondenSyn waterless condenser from Asynt has been widely adopted by the Technicians Sustainability Working Group (TSWG) operating within the Biomolecular Science and Medicinal Chemistry Division at Nottingham University (UK) as part of their drive to make teaching and research greener.
The TSWG was formed by lab technicians from across Nottingham University campuses with the aim of leading green initiatives and sharing best practices and ideas to make the university greener and more sustainable. Initiatives have ranged from automatic recycling of 'dirty' solvents, running -80°C freezers at -70°C and installing CondenSyn waterless condensers across the laboratories in the Schools of Pharmacy and Chemistry. It is now liaising with several other UK universities to help them set up similar working groups.
Lee Hibbett, a founder member of the TSWG and senior research support technician in the School of Pharmacy, said: "Water condensers have been used in our scientific labs for decades for refluxing reactions at elevated temperature and preventing evaporation of the solvent. This is done by passing water through a jacketed glass column, cooling the vapour back into a liquid. The cooling water used in this process just ends up down the sink!
“Waterless condensers work by allowing air to flow over a large glass surface area, removing any heat and essentially doing the same job as the water coolant. With a typical reflux reaction running for 16 hours, we calculated a single water condenser to use 20-litres of water per hour – equating to a waste of 320 litres of water per reaction. Scaling this by our 37 scientists doing two reactions per week, this equates to a saving of 1,231,360 litres of water in a year by adopting the CondenSyn waterless condensers. I looked into what waterless condensers were available on the market and the CondenSyn from Asynt fitted our needs the best. They were easier to use, lightweight, economically priced and backed by the team at Asynt who have always provided a knowledgeable and responsive support."
Manufactured in the UK, Asynt’s range of CondenSyn waterless condensers to optimally suit varying reaction scales. Offering clear visibility of ongoing experimental reflux, instruments are easy to clean and maintain and incorporate an anti--roll feature to help prevent rolling off laboratory surfaces. As well as being a sustainable alternative for reflux reactions, the CondenSyn can be adapted for distillation experiments. A typical laboratory, replacing standard water condensers with CondenSyn air-cooled condensers, can expect to see a return on its investment in as little as six months.