23 Jul 2019

It's all about the particles

It’s all about the particles.

On average, Aquaspersions UK create 16.5 Trillion (1018) brand new dispersion particles every working day. Over 5 Trilliard (1021) in a year. Coincidentally that’s about the same number as the number of stars there are estimated to be in the observable universe. To divert for a second, how many chemical atoms do these particles carry to our customers? Now that’s a difficult one to be accurate on, due to the sheer number of different actives of different molar mass we disperse, but probably in the region of a Quintillion (1030) atoms a year.

Anyway, parking the atoms for the moment (which broadly speaking already exist when our raw materials are delivered to our factory) and back to the particles we create, that really is a lot of particles to have responsibility for.

Is it an exaggeration to say that each and every one of them adds value to our customers? Well maybe slightly, but barring wastage and the odd spillage, most of them surely do? And on the flip-side they really wouldn’t be anything like as useful if they weren’t well-created ? And what of the problems they might then cause downstream…?

So, like some of my colleagues, as I’ve got older I find myself sleeping less well at night, many more ‘wide-awake hours’ than say five or ten years ago. So what do I find myself sometime thinking about in the small hours far too often. You’ve guessed it, all those particles and the massive responsibility they carry on their (metaphorical) shoulders as they make their journeys with their (also metaphorical) siblings, from Halifax to our customers premises in other parts of the UK, Europe, North and South America, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and sometimes beyond.

Should I worry then? Well perhaps not if I’m honest. Perhaps I of all people know how well we design our particle dispersions, how our team of scientists test them to exhaustion to know they will survive a wide variety of conditions and even the odd mistreatment. I know how we obsessively control our production processes to form each particle correctly at the right size and stabilise it properly, making sure the environment every particle is placed in is just right to ensure it stays as a discrete particle and doesn’t agglomerate with others or sediment over time. Or how our QC department double and triple check everything is correct before packing our particles and sending them on their way. So I know in my heart that the vast majority of the time, they’ll arrive where they need to, be used and give the convenience and performance (and repeat business) that our global reputation suggests they will.

So why do I worry ? Maybe that’s what MD’s are there for? Or maybe as a scientist and (very) amateur astronomer I just know that ten to the power 21 is really far too big a number not to worry about?