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  • Well I guess it's been awhile since we've met, mate.

  • I guess my confession is it's been three years since my last Periodic Video.

  • As you know, I got a new job a number of years ago

  • and the job was to be the director of this

  • new development, this carbon-neutral laboratory that we're building in Nottingham.

  • And much of my time over the last three years has actually been devoted to

  • building and overseeing and actually "breathing to life" the project.

  • So this building is an opportunity for us to learn how to do science,

  • how to do chemistry in a fundamentally different way.

  • In a way that allows us to achieve the goals that we want to achieve

  • but without creating as much damage, without creating such a large carbon footprint.

  • Well, when you build a building, typically you build it out of things like concrete and steel

  • What many people don't understand about using concrete and steel

  • is that it costs a lot of energy to make the concrete and make the steel,

  • so what we've done is that we've built our building out of sustainable materials

  • quite a lot of wood, which you can see here

  • quite a lot of natural materials like clays,

  • and as you can see a grass roof on the top of our building.

  • We're now starting to put instruments inside.

  • There's no science going on in this building yet,

  • but I can show you some of the spaces and I can show you where my group will be,

  • where my office will be, just as a sneak preview, so that you can

  • whet your appetite and perhaps come back and look a little bit later.

  • Has been a huge amount of work, and it's not just my work

  • 'cause clearly I'm not a builder.

  • We've had a team of sometimes up to a hundred people working here

  • and some of the best craftsmen that you could ever imagine.

  • So, um, this is my new office.

  • As you can see, it's not an office yet.

  • We've got furniture on the floor and the odd cardboard box.

  • Actually, my new role as director of this facility

  • allows me to focus more on my research.

  • So my research group is growing, and my research group will move into the building as well

  • and my research group are incredibly excited about moving into a building.

  • You know, how many people in the world have made a molecule and not considered

  • what the impact of the side-products or the waste products of their process are?

  • And, essentially, we've got to consider all aspects,

  • all of the atoms that go into our synthesis

  • and make sure that we know the end fate of the atoms at the end.

  • So as we go up these steps here, if you take a look up to the ceiling,

  • you'll see these really cool translucent photovoltaics

  • so they're actually generating current, and actually allowing some natural light to come through as well

  • so, we're generating electric and lighting at the same time.

  • So we're upstairs in the building now, on the research level,

  • all of our labs are upstairs.

  • I like this space though, you know, cos it allows you to come and

  • engage in the environment and think about what's going on out there and

  • and actually relax from your science for a few moments.

  • So actually what we're going to do with this space is put some chairs in and put some

  • whiteboard spaces so they can actually think and create about science

  • and actually use this space productively.

  • So the reason we're here now though is cos it's actually sort of the entranceway to my lab.

  • So the new lab that my group will move into in the next 3 or 4 weeks' time.

  • It's called Lab 3. (Laughs) It doesn't have a name as yet

  • because, as I said this project's not finished yet.

  • And we're rapidly on the way to getting there.

  • So this laboratory, I suppose on first inspection looks just like an old fashioned lab.

  • You know, we've got benches, along the walls we've got fume cupboards...

  • But if you take a look up towards the roof in this laboratory, you'll see that the

  • roof space is really quite expansive,

  • you can actually see all of the supply and extract ducts

  • you can see the delivery of all of the materials that you need to do your science.

  • Our fume cupboards look pretty much conventional.

  • And, in fact, they are quite conventional.

  • They're sort of more elaborate fume cupboards,

  • cos they give us side panels that we can move so that we can use safety features

  • which are not on all fume cupboards.

  • But I suppose the key innovation is actually in the plant rooms upstairs.

  • Because the plant which runs our fume cupboards

  • uses a much, much smaller amount of energy

  • so that we can provide the safe environment to do science

  • without costing too much in terms of energy, and therefore additional carbon.

  • It's probably one of the most efficient laboratories in the world.

  • It's the first of its type...

  • I'm not going to tell you about the technical aspects, because

  • it's a boring lecture which will last an hour!

  • It's very, very efficient.

  • It uses approximately a third of the energy of a traditional laboratory.

  • ...after the 20 million pound building was completely destroyed by fire.

  • [Dr. License] The building wasn't complete, it wasn't a "building,"

  • it was still, in some senses a pile of wood,

  • and an accident happened.

  • I was actually on holiday in North Norfolk

  • in an area where there's no phone signal and no Internet,

  • hopefully on a "digital detox."

  • I managed to get a text message at about 11 o'clock in the evening

  • and yeah, the news was delivered.

  • And yeah, ruined the holiday and caused the dramatic change in

  • the following two years.

  • But you know, the building burned down

  • and less than two years later we've rebuilt it.

  • It's now complete; it now has all of its fire systems armed, protecting it.

  • And we're getting excited about moving in to do science.

  • So this is what's called our "winter garden."

  • It's an amazing space.

  • It's for us to have networking, idea generation,

  • small conferences.

  • If you come here, you can see the most amazing optical illusion,

  • which you'll never see on a camera.

  • So where the camera is, if you look over the edge of the balcony,

  • if you have a brain connected to the eye, or the lens,

  • your brain starts playing a trick with you, per se

  • because the glass wall to the right

  • and the wooden wall to the left are both on a really unusual incline.

  • So if you then focus on the stairway,

  • which is halfway along this room,

  • it looks like the whole thing's falling over!

  • It's really really fantastic; it makes people quite giddy and quite wobbly.

  • And in fact made our builders panic, they went away and got all sorts of levels and

  • surveyed the building to make sure that they'd built it straight.

  • So what we've done here in Nottingham

  • is we've run an experiment.

  • And that experiment has been truly, truly multidisciplinary.

  • It's involved chemists, it's involved architects, it's involved construction people,

  • it's involved people from industries that I would never have ever dreamt of.

  • And as I said, this really is an experiment.

  • It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to try and do science in a fundamentally better way.

  • ...and Neil's gonna load it, and then we're gonna drop the hammer on it.

  • There you go, Neil.

  • We're gonna wear secondary goggles, so here's my safety goggles, which I'm gonna put on top.

  • Don't we look good?

Well I guess it's been awhile since we've met, mate.

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/27
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