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The University of Southampton

The Periodic Table came alive on campus for Chemistry Week

Published: 18 November 2019
Chemistry periodic table

The University of Southampton was lit up to raise awareness of a serious issue as part of Chemistry Week.

The periodic table was projected on to the south side of the Life Science Building to highlight the threat to a growing number of elements through a lack of recycling old tech devices.

The public got the opportunity to take part in Chemistry activities and demonstrations organised by Southampton staff and students including: “Gold Fingerprinting”, “The Chemistry of Mulled Wine”, and children-friendly activities such as exploring and designing elements to contribute to a Periodic Table.

Research carried out by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) found that 51% of UK households have at least one unused electronic device and 45% have up to five. Of these, 82% have no plans to recycle or sell on their devices after they fall out of use.

However, these abandoned electronics harbour precious elements that are at risk of running out.

Professor Gill Reid, Head of Chemistry says: “Everything around us is made from one or more of the elements contained in the periodic table. Today we use these chemicals to create the items that are at the heart of modern society, be it electronic devices such as mobile phones and computers, transportation or equipment in hospitals that helps saves lives. However, many of the chemical elements are under threat due to their limited supply on the planet. Chemistry is vital for the creation of a sustainable future, therefore, as we mark 150 years since the periodic table was created, it is vitally important that we all take action now to recycle these items to ensure the sustainability of the elements for future generations.”

Read the full story on the main news page.

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