UCLA TGIF grant supports Jung group’s sustainability efforts

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The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) funding enables Professor Michael Jung’s group to successfully adopt the use of waterless condensers in their organic synthesis work.

A grant from the TGIF UCLA sustainability initiative enabled the Jung lab to purchase six special high efficiency air-cooled waterless condensers (FindenserTM) for use in their research labs which resulted in lower water consumption and reduced risk for accidental laboratory flooding. 


Project leader Dr. Dayan Elshan holds a traditional glass water-cooled condenser (left) and one of the new FindenserTM waterless condensers (right) which have saved the Jung group >21,000 gallons of water in the ten months since they purchased them with a grant from UCLA’s The Green Initiative Fund. The FindeserTM condenser is in use behind Elshan, on the left. 

A condenser prevents solvent/reactant (a liquid) loss while conducting reactions that require heating/reflux. The FindenserTM unit replaces the traditional water-cooled condenser which consists of a glass tube nested within another; water flows through the space between these two tubes; the condenser is attached to the top of a flask so that, as refluxing solvent evaporates and travels up through the center tube, the flowing water cools the solvent. The solvent then condenses on the glass surface and drips back into the flask. In some variants, the cold water runs through an inner glass coil within the condenser (as shown in the above photo). Depending on the flow rate, a typical water-cooled condenser uses one to four liters of water per minute. For many experiments, researchers must run the condenser overnight which results in gallons and gallons of wasted water.

“During an eight-month period of data collection,1062 hours of FindenserTM usage was recorded across all researchers in the Jung group” said the postdoctoral researcher Dr. Dayan Elshan, who headed up the project. “This translates to 79,650 liters (21,041 gallons) of water saved to-date (assuming a flowrate of 1 liter per minute) in this pilot project.” 

Conservation of water has become a critical sustainability goal, due to climate change and population growth. It is particularly important in Southern California where rain patterns have changed to result in an arid climate. As part of its mission toward becoming a leader in environmental sustainability, UCLA has implemented a “water action plan” aiming to reduce its water consumption by 20% in 2020 from the base line value defined in the year 2000.  

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(Left) the FindenserTM and FindenserTM Mini set-up (Right) Functional components of the Findenser system.  Images: www.radleys.com

“Recently the FindenserTM has replaced traditional condensers in many research facilities as a means of cutting down the costs and hazards associated with messy spillages and wasteful water consumption/disposal” Elshan said. “Although the initial cost of obtaining these units is high (~$350 each), continued usage readily pays back that investment. We are excited to raise awareness of this technology within the department. Our ultimate goal is to positively contribute to UCLA’s sustainability efforts.”

More information about the FindenserTM technology can be found on the manufacturer’s website.  

To learn more about the Jung group’s research, visit their website.

Photo by Penny Jennings/UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemsitry.