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Periodic Table lights up

Written by News, On Campus, University

Newcastle University were involved in the celebrations during Chemistry Week as they projected an image of the Periodic Table on the side of one of its buildings in commemoration of its 150th birthday.

The projection was part of a wider set of celebrations alongside other universities including Northumbria, Keele, Edinburgh and St Andrews.

However, whilst the display was to celebrate the Periodic Table’s birthday, it also aimed to raise a message about the importance of recycling old gadgets and technology devices.

The Royal Society of Chemistry conducted a study which found that 51% of households have at least one unused device, such as a mobile phone or computer. A further 45% were found to have up to five unused devices. Out of this sample, it was uncovered that 82% had no plans to recycle their device after usage.

One of the biggest concerns about the lack of recycling of these devices is that there is a risk that some valuable elements may run out.

This has led to chemists across the country attempting to find ways to discover alternatives to these elements and try and find ways to extract these elements from old and unused devices.

Newcastle University and MSc Environmental Engineering student, Patrick Harland, commented, “I think this is a fantastic idea, as long as it can be done properly and the harmful elements within the devices are disposed of properly.

I would question whether the infrastructure exists to fully currently, as I would reckon though a good idea, at the moment it is very ambitious.”

The CEO of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Robert Parker, said, “This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Mendeleev Periodic Table of Elements. Now, over a century and a half later, many of the elements discovered are in critical danger of running out.

“We’re really pleased to have the support of some the UK and Ireland’s leading institutions in bringing the importance of the message to life – literally highlighting the responsibility we have in ensuring our old devices are properly recycled.

“In the future, they could be needed for other technologies that we haven’t even discovered yet – for health, green energy, treating pollution and more.”

Last modified: 5th December 2019

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