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StarFish™ Heating & Stirring Workstation Benefits Academic Teaching & Research

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The School of Chemical Sciences & Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) has implemented five StarFish multi-experiment heating and stirring workstations from Radleys replacing a range of standard hotplate stirrers, heating mantles and water baths that were previously used in teaching and scale-up synthetic research work.

As part of the Pharmacy degree course at the University of East Anglia, students take part in a multi-disciplinary synthetic laboratory class - Medicinal Chemistry labs, where they synthesis and extract biologically active molecules, analyse purity and assess biological activity. 

Prior to implementation of a Radleys 5-place StarFish system - traditional laboratory heating and stirring equipment was used for all the experiments. In particular, a synthesis of sulfanilamide relied on the use of a multi-place water bath for reflux.

This system did not prove to be synthetically reliable and posed a significant safety risk of burning and scalding when large numbers of students were performing the experiment simultaneously.

Beyond providing a valuable demonstration of modern industry standard synthetic technology the StarFish has proved reliable and easy to use for students and is also now used in a number of additional laboratory classes for both first and second year chemistry students. These include preparation of 1,3,5-tribromobenzene from aniline, preparation of tetraiodotin (IV), polyester recycling and a Wittig reaction.

In addition, the School of Chemical Sciences & Pharmacy have adopted the StarFish system for synthesis within their research laboratory, where it has freed up space within the fume hood for workup and allowed more efficient use of space within the laboratory.

Dr Susan Matthews, a lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry within the Pharmacy Teaching Executive, commented ‘We have been sufficiently impressed by the StarFish technology to have recently bought a three station 500ml StarFish for our scale-up synthetic work’.

Designed to provide a safe, clean and more productive alternative to using water baths and heating mantles, the Radleys StarFish system offers the space-saving, ease-of-use, rapid set-up and operational safety improvements sought by university departments faced with increasing lab class sizes.

The StarFish can be configured to provide, at its simplest level, simultaneous stirring and heating of a wide variety of vessel types and sizes – from small 2ml vials to 250ml round-bottomed flasks. Yet the same system can also be configured to perform more complex procedures in parallel including synthesis, extraction, concentration, distillation and digestion. 

To make best use of existing laboratory resources, the StarFish accepts most popular brands of standard glassware. With a choice of base plates, the StarFish will fit on all leading brands of stirring hotplate.