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Technicians help save UEA 60,000 litres of water annually

University of East Anglia (UEA) science technicians are saving around 60,000 litres of water annually after adapting the air condensers used in chemistry and pharmacy labs. Now the manufacturer, Asynt, is using their design to improve their product, which will be sold to universities and commercial labs worldwide, later this month.

Condensers are used to cool and condense the vapours produced in experiments, and the technicians designed an adaptor to the air condensers after recognising that their experiments could be made more sustainable. A prototype was blown in November 2016 by UEA’s glassblower, and was tested by Senior Technician in the School of Chemistry, Matthew Bennett.

“This is a momentous step and allows us to fulfil our ambition of becoming completely water-free. With our continued innovation and dedication to sustainability, I believe we can really make headway in further minimising our impact on the environment.” said Matthew.

The news comes as the University signed the Technician Commitment earlier this year, signifying its support to technical staff, ensuring greater visibility and recognition of their work.

Prof Phillip Gilmartin, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science, who also chairs the University’s Sustainability Board, said: “I’m really proud that the commitment and invention from staff has led to such a measurable impact across the University, which could also change the way other institutions deliver teaching.

“Teaching practical skills, and learning through experiments in our laboratories is integral to students seeing the theories and principles of their discipline really come to life. It’s where ideas flourish, inspiration is sought and passion for science is amplified.”

The adaptation was developed in consultation with SustainableUEA, who provided initial funding for the laboratory to switch to air condensers and have advised to ensure efficiency throughout the process.

Catrin Darsley, Sustainable Development Manager, said: “Our team is excited to see such benefits from the collaboration between UEA technicians and external industry. This is a fantastic example of the potential for innovation within our labs.”