Birmingham Uni and Innospec join forces to develop safe and responsible chemicals

Article by Kerry Hebden

THE University of Birmingham has teamed up with chemical company Innospec to accelerate research into the development of surface-active chemicals that could be used in agrochemicals, construction, fuel, home and personal care products. 

The agreement comes as executives from the company met representatives of the university’s school of chemical engineering and its centre for formulation who have extensive expertise in colloids, surfaces, and interfaces. The university says its strategic research collaboration with Innospec aims to deliver products that are safe, responsible, resource-sensitive, and environmentally considerate. These echo its strategic research, engagement, impact, and sustainability goals. 

Mark Sterling, pro vice-chancellor and head of Birmingham’s college of engineering and physical sciences, said: “Scientists at the University of Birmingham are at the cutting edge of formulation engineering, and this type of collaboration, which focusses academic expertise on solving industrial scale problems, typically yields entirely novel technologies.”  

Headquartered in Colorado, and with production plants located around the world including the UK, US, France, Germany, Philippines, Italy and Spain, Innospec is divided into three business units: fuel specialties, oilfield services and performance chemicals. This last category includes personal care, home care, and agrochemicals. Its multi-year research collaboration with the University of Birmingham will span these key areas. 

Ian McRobbie, Innospec’s CTO, said: “I am delighted to sign the agreement that signals our serious commitment to work with the exceptional experts in the field. As a global specialty chemical company, our aim is to provide innovative ground-breaking products, for which academic partnership with the right institution is essential.” 

Zhenyu Jason Zhang, whose research focuses on how soft matter, such as colloids - a mixture in which one substance is divided into minute particles and dispersed throughout a second substance - ‘behave’ at surfaces and interfaces, said: “We are very much encouraged that our research competence and scientific expertise have been recognised by Innospec. Working closely with our industrial partners to address grand challenges such as sustainability has been the core element of formulation engineering at University of Birmingham, and we look forward to strengthening and expanding the portfolio of the collaboration.” 


Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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