The Wilton Centre.
The Wilton Centre.
Nick Hill

Chemical and coatings giant Akzo Nobel to invest in Teesside startup's green technology

A Teesside-based university spin out company has agreed a deal with one of the world’s largest speciality chemical and coatings companies to develop greener, cleaner and safer surfactants for use in detergents and soaps.

Akzo Nobel, the chemical and coatings giant, is expected to make a seven-figure investment in developing and scaling up Wilton Centre-based Green Lizard Technologies’ patented process to make surfactants from plants rather than from oil.

The Joint Development Agreement with Akzo Nobel Specialty Chemicals, which Green Lizard Technologies won in competition with 20 other startup technology companies, will result in new R&D jobs at Green Lizard Technologies’ Wilton Centre base.

The Wilton Centre is a privately-owned science and business park located in the heart of Teesside just five minutes’ drive from Middlesbrough. It provides a wide range of office, laboratory and pilot plant accommodation at competitive rental terms with immediate occupancy.

The deal also brings much closer the prospect of a full scale production plant at Wilton, which is expected to employ more than 30 people.

Fergal Coleman, project leader at Green Lizard Technologies, said: “This is a massive stamp of approval in our technology from one of the world’s largest chemical companies.

“It will really speed up the market development and commercialisation of one aspect of our technology, with Akzo Nobel being in a strong position to take the majority of product from our proposed production plant.

“At present nearly all surfactants used in soaps and detergents are ultimately derived from oil. Working with Akzo Nobel means that our dream of replacing these with cheaper greener biosurfactants has moved many steps closer.”

Green Lizard Technologies acquired pilot plant, office and laboratory space at the Wilton Centre in February 2018 to test manufacture Epoxy Propanol (EP), also known as Glycidol, which in addition to surfactants can also be used to manufacture greener industrial paints and coatings and speciality chemicals.

The startup’s technology converts glycerol, a waste product from the manufacture of bio-diesel, into EP. Glycerol is used in food production, but increasing production of bio-diesel to meet international targets has led to a glut.

Steve Duffield, site director at the Wilton Centre, commented: “This is another accolade for one of the many genuinely world-leading technology companies which are based at the Wilton Centre.

“A number of them are pushing back the frontiers of sustainable environmental technology to make the world greener and safer and reduce the use of oil in the chemical industry.

“We have all the infrastructure, facilities and supporting expertise in place to allow technology companies to focus on their processes, rather than dealing with a mountain of red tape before they can even get going.”

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