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Science
FRONTIERS
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Wednesday 21:00-21:30
Frontiers explores new ideas in science, meeting the researchers who see the world through fresh eyes and challenge existing theories - as well as hearing from their critics. Many such developments create new ethical and moral questions and Frontiers is not afraid to consider these.
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Listen to 10 November
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Wednesday 10 November 2004
Lava, an ionic liquid

Ionic liquids

You probably haven’t heard of ionic liquids, but these remarkable substances could be the lubricant for a veritable revolution in chemical engineering.

Ionic liquids are solvents consisting of electrically charged particles - or ions - which could be positive or negative. They're not flammable; they release no fumes; and they can make chemical reactions faster and cheaper.

There are potentially as many of these intriguing liquids as you could ever want. They increase yield – and profit - for manufacturers, reduce the amount of malodorous, toxic waste in the environment and make the workplace much safer.

Green chemistry

Ionic liquids could be the answer to making the chemical industry turn its back for good on the dirty, contaminating practices of old and embrace instead ‘green chemistry’.

Professor Kenneth Seddon, Chair of Inorganic Chemistry at Queen’s University, Belfast, has made it his life’s work to promote green chemistry around the world.  He believes ionic liquids could provide a key to making the components and end products from industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals in an environmentally friendly way.
 
Peter Evans finds out how ionic liquids work, and how they can contribute to a greener future.
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