University of Leicester eBulletin

Breakthrough in Greener Solutions

December 2002
No 278

Pioneering new solvent systems which are recyclable and environmentally compatible have been developed by researchers at the University of Leicester.

The team, led by Drs Andy Abbott and David Davies, has developed a wide range of new solvents made from bulk commodity materials such as urea (a common fertiliser) and vitamin B4. These have been studied extensively in recent years as they offer a potentially clean way to carry out chemical processes. They are non-volatile whilst liquid over a wide range of temperatures and offer a benign alternative to, for example, some strong acids.

The work has been carried out by the joint venture company, Scionix Ltd, set up by the University with Genacys Ltd, a subsidiary of the Whyte Group Ltd. 

Scionix is now marketing a range of these solvents for companies to test on their specific applications.

These novel liquids can be used for a variety of applications including metal finishing, catalysis, batteries and metal reprocessing, to name but a few. Further benefits include limited sensitivity to water, readily available in large quantities and at comparable cost to many volatile organic solvents (VOS).

Dr Abbott said “I think the unusual properties of these fluids combined with their simplicity of manufacture will lead to their rapid adoption as environmentally compatible solvents. For the first time we can subtly alter the properties of a solvent to tailor it to a specific application”. 

NOTE TO EDITORS:   More information can be obtained from Dr Andy Abbott ( or Dr David Davies (,), Scionix Ltd, Chemistry Department, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH. Telephone 0116 252 2087/2092, Fax 0116 252 3789 (

Alternatively contact Dr Gregor Rozenberg ( Genacys Limited, Marlborough House, 298 Regents Park Rd, Finchley, London N3 2UA, UK, Telephone 020 8371 3905  Fax 020 83713958  Mobile 07905 299 779.

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