• Print

A positive reaction! First experiment takes place at our new ‘green lab’ 

The GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry

Just two years after the devastating fire which destroyed our original GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory (CNL), our new building has opened with a bang as it celebrates its landmark first experiment. 

Throwing open its doors to students and staff for the first time this summer the new laboratory, built using the same principles and aesthetics of the original design, provides unrivalled facilities for chemistry and incorporates the latest in carbon-neutral technologies. The first of its kind to open in the UK, our new ‘green lab’ secures Nottingham’s place as a world-leader in sustainable chemistry – and we’re already getting started on exciting research with the potential to change the future of science.  

A successful first experiment  

The momentous first experiment was carried out at the laboratory this summer by an undergraduate project student – Lisa Morrison – along with chemistry PhD students Ana Santos and Margarida Trindade. 

The project group – supervised by Professor Peter Licence, Director of the CNL – are looking into the development of new chemistries that employ so-called ionic liquids, a class of alternative solvents that have the potential to deliver more efficient reactions with a greatly reduced environmental impact. 

“This first reaction was to synthesise an ionic liquid, a salt that is liquid at room temperature,” explained Ana. “An ionic liquid is unlike more traditional salts like rock salt (or table salt) which don’t melt until temperatures exceed 800˚C!

“Salts are made of positive and negatively charged ions. Most simple salts are solids, but by playing with the shapes and structures of the individual ions, we can manipulate their physical and chemical properties and make them useful for a range of applications, including as electrolytes in batteries and solar cells and as solvents. 

“The ionic liquid that we have made will be investigated as an electrically conducting solvent that may find use in electronic components like capacitors and sensors. This class of ionic liquids has been found to be less toxic than many other common electrolytes, which is very important if we are to reduce the impact of electronic devices.” 

The building offers highly efficient laboratory facilities that are almost entirely powered by renewable energy, providing an environment that offers world-class facilities with as small a carbon footprint as possible


added Professor Licence. “This first reaction is very exciting for us, as it’s the first step towards creating something really special with potential impact to every one of us that uses mobile electronic devices.”

Take a virtual tour of the lab

Go behind the scenes of the laboratories and cutting-edge facilities of this innovative new building. Simply click below to get started. 

Alumni Relations

Portland Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 2408
fax: +44 (0)115 951 3937