Chemistry students are investigating how ionic liquids could be used for sustainable synthesis of fragrances, as a part of 'Ionic Liquids: Towards Greener Fragrances' research.
The innovative project in Northern Ireland is designed to change young people’s perception of the subject and open their eyes to less traditional applications of chemistry beyond the taught curriculum. Enabled by an RSC Outreach Fund grant, it has already demonstrated its potential to change students’ attitudes towards chemistry and cement their decisions to pursue the subject beyond school.
Piloted last year, 'Towards Greener Fragrances' supports a broader research agenda of using unconventional techniques to devise greener routes towards specialist chemicals. This is potentially useful in the manufacturing of scents for personal care products and food flavourings.
Professor Gosia Swadzba-Kwasny, director of the Queen’s University Ionic Liquids Laboratories (QUILL) at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, developed 'Ionic Liquids: Towards Greener Fragrances' in collaboration with the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS). The purpose of the project is to provide young people with a different perspective on chemistry, allowing them to experience the creativity of scientific research and learn how it relates to the real world.
“We want to inspire young people from all backgrounds and show them how interesting and exciting chemistry can be when applied to real-life problems. Equally, we want them to see that they can be part of it all,” she said.
"Our pilot showed that through this project, students gained hands-on research experience, which allowed them to utilise reactions studied at A-level. They also developed practical skills and gained insight into the research profession.”