After winning three trophies, including the top prize, at last year’s IChemE Global Awards in Bolton, Queen’s University Belfast has been named among the winners of the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Awards for its ground-breaking work in removing harmful mercury from natural gas.
The technology developed by Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL), in partnership with PETRONAS, is being used to produce mercury-free natural gas at two PETRONAS plants in Malaysia.
Mercury is one of the biggest threats to downstream processing in the oil and gas exploration industry, so it is a huge problem for companies like PETRONAS. It contaminates natural gas, corrodes processing equipment, and compromises the safety of processing plants and the quality of the end product. The amount of mercury present can vary considerably, which makes it incredibly difficult to manage.
In 2013, Queen’s ionic liquids discoveries were named the Most Important British Innovation of the 21st Century in recognition of their potential future impact on the world, in a poll initiated by the Science Museum, beating the Nobel Prize winning Higgs boson and graphene discoveries.
At IChemE’s AGM on 28 May 2014, QUILL received another award – the Nicklin Medal – which recognises their significant contribution to the development of chemical, process or biochemical technology (pictured above).
QUILL is home to nearly 100 scientists who are exploring the enormous potential of ionic liquids or ‘designer solvents’. Everyone at IChemE congratulates them for their major successes and accolades in recent years.