This blog will discuss how sustainability can be improved in benchtop chemistry across teaching and academic labs; highlighting the major challenges faced in labs and explore targeted solutions for improvement.


The Problem: Water Wastage

Water consumption in labs is a significant concern, with labs using about five times more water per square meter compared to office spaces. For example, at the University of California, Berkeley, labs account for 19% of the university’s total water usage. Apart from the environmental implications, excessive water wastage leads to higher costs, with expenses amounting up to £480 per year for a single tap used for four hours daily.

One of the primary contributors to water wastage is the conventional practice of connecting water condensers to taps, resulting in the wastage of up to 600 litres of water per day. To address this issue, a sustainable alternative has been developed, the Findenser.

Findenser and cross section showing glass inner and heat transfer liquid. Alternative to water condensers for sustainability.

The Solution: The Findenser

The Findenser is a sustainable substitute for traditional water condensers. It consists of a glass condenser and an aluminium jacket with heat transfer fluid encapsulated in between. The finned aluminium jacket effectively removes heat from the solvent vapor and dissipates it into the air, eliminating the need for water cooling.

Graph showing solvent retention rate of water condenser vs. Findenser. Highlighting the sustainability of Findenser.

The Findenser offers numerous advantages over water condensers. Not only does it eliminate water consumption, but it also requires no power and provides a cleaner workspace without any tubing. Additionally, the Findenser maintains a similar solvent retention rate to water condensers, making it an efficient and sustainable choice for labs. The University of California San Diego has successfully replaced over 200 water condensers with Findensers, leading to substantial water savings.

Energy Consumption: Heating Solutions

Energy consumption is another area in need of improvement in labs. Benchtop equipment, such as hotplates, is one of the major energy consumers in chemistry labs. Traditional heating methods, such as oil baths, not only pose safety hazards but also require significant amounts of energy to reach the desired temperature.

Full Heat-On range. An alternative to oil baths for improved sustainability.

To address this issue, Heat-On blocks have been developed as an alternative to oil baths. Made from a single piece of aluminium, the Heat-On blocks transfer heat faster and require less energy compared to oil baths. The unique design and shape of the blocks ensure consistent and precise temperature control, resulting in faster reaction times and improved efficiency. The Radleys’ proprietary design ensures that flasks don’t crack. They gauge the glassware as you put it in the block. If you can put the flask in and spin it then it won’t ever crack as the block cools down.

StarFish glassware and straps. Improved sustainability, by doing more reactions on one hotplate.

Furthermore, for labs requiring simultaneous heating of multiple vessels, the StarFish system provides a solution. The StarFish allows multiple vessels to be heated on a single hotplate, reducing energy consumption and optimising space utilisation.


Improving sustainability in academic labs is crucial for reducing water wastage and energy consumption. By adopting waterless condensers like the Findenser and replacing traditional heating methods with Heat-On blocks and the StarFish system, labs can achieve significant improvements in sustainability, safety, productivity, and efficiency. Together, a positive impact can be made in enhancing the sustainability of academic labs. Thank you for reading!


Thank you to the valuable resources and data on lab sustainability provided by organizations such as LEAF and My Green Lab.


To find out more about this topic watch our webinar – Sustainability in Academic Labs: Simple Tools for Green Benchtop Chemistry.

You might also be interested in

Sustainability in academic labs – simple tools for green benchtop chemistry - On Demand

Webinar: Sustainability in academic labs – Simple tools for green benchtop chemistry

Chemistry labs are amongst the most intensive consumers of energy and water. In this webinar, we look at where these resources are being used in university labs and identify areas that can be affected by individual scientists and groups. Water-cooled condensers and heating equipment are some of the worst culprits, so we discuss the issues and look at some improvements and alternatives that can be used to dramatically cut water and energy waste.

Agenda & Registration
Two hotplates. The one on the left is set up with heat-on and findenser and the one on the right is set up with just heat-on