EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training
in Sustainable Chemistry

CDT visit to Croda

May 22, 2017

By Rhona Savin, Cohort 3 student

A group of eight CDT in Sustainable Chemistry students from across all three cohorts visited Croda sites at Cowick Hall and Rawcliffe Bridge in Goole, East Yorkshire.  Having previously participated in the Industrial Challenge event delivered by representatives from Croda, we were interested in learning more about the company.

The day began at the company headquarters at Cowick Hall with various talks about the company, which gave us an opportunity to experience the areas of business we had previously never been exposed to such as regulatory processes, marketing and graduate recruitment.

After the presentations, we were given a tour of the applications lab where all Croda products are tested both quantitatively and qualitatively. It was particularly useful for us to link the chemicals they were producing with the recognisable companies and brands that use them.

For the second part of the day we moved on to the manufacturing site, where we were given a more in depth presentation about the chemistry conducted Croda a day to day basis. It was fascinating to learn that one of Croda’s biggest product lines still comes from their original starting material, lanolin or wool grease. Lanolin is a waste material which Croda first utilised 92 years ago, which comes from processing sheep wool. This resonated with many of us who are trying to use waste or more abundant materials as starting materials in order to make our chemistry more sustainable.

The site employed a wide range of chemistry from polymerisations to alkoylations in order to create the broad spectrum of specialist chemicals demanded by their clients. We saw the entire process,  from the storage of the starting materials to the formulation and packaging of the end products. It was interesting to see the scale up of their reactions and to hear about the considerations the synthesis teams have to make when moving to large scale manufacture. These are considerations we would all have to include if we wanted our novel sustainable chemistry to eventually make a wide impact on industry.

The series of visits to the companies closely linked to the centre have been interesting, particularly in terms of learning about the differences between how research is conducted in industry and academia.  It has given all of us a chance to think about the bigger picture of where our research and our careers might lead and we look forward to further possible visits to other companies.

Overall, the visit to Croda was a great success and we would like to say a big thank you to our host Dr Jess Gould and her colleagues for their efforts in facilitating the visit.

Some of the comments received by the participating students include:

 “I was motivated to participate in the visit as I wanted to see the facilities of one of our industrial partners and get a greater appreciation and understanding of what they do, how they operate and the people that work for them.” – Patrick Morgan, Cohort 3

“I found it quite useful learning about the graduate programme, how to apply it and also be aware of the conditions of working for CRODA (flexible timetable, environment, etc).” – Lidia Delgado, Cohort 3

 “It was pretty amazing to see how Croda's business was built on renewable feedstocks, woolgrease and rapeseed oil.” – Grace Lowe, Cohort 1.

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