Interview with Lead Chemist at a major adhesive company
With a breakthrough discovery — researched using the online chemistry database Reaxys — a chemist was able to expand business offerings in a new market.
Even a breakthrough idea for a product is nothing if it's too expensive to produce. That's the problem Jack Spacek and his team knew all too well. Without being able to substantially cut costs, there was no way their product would ever be brought to market. One of the highest expenses were the compounds required for the formulation. So the team faced the monumental task of sifting through countless alternative monomers that could still function as required in the formula.
A team of chemists at a major adhesives company wanted to expand the company’s product offerings to the oil and gas industry by developing an anti-corrosive coating for off-shore rigs in high-salt seas. But before the team could enter the new market, they needed to find a way to lower costs for the formula.
Our initial prototypes were based on some extremely expensive — almost to the point of being cost-prohibitive — additives, says Jack Spacek*, the lead chemist on the project.
Spacek’s team used Reaxys, Elsevier’s online chemistry database, to search for substructures of additives that could potentially replace part of the coating’s structure. After analyzing a number of reactions, they quickly reached a breakthrough, and invented a new polymer — the first of its kind on the market — with a monomer that kept corrosion from spreading.
"We were constantly preparing the coating with different monomers in the hopes of lowering the overall cost," explains Spacek.
Reaxys delivered a huge amount of relevant results — many more than Google has on similar projects we’ve done. There’s really no way for us to search through chemical structures, let alone sub-structures, to the same degree of depth using Google. The results were also linked together better. In fact, it could have potentially taken much more time and been more difficult to find the cost-saving monomer if we hadn’t used Reaxys.
"By cutting costs, we could achieve higher profit margins and were also able to expand our company’s coatings business into different industries. We definitely plan to use Reaxys for many more experiments to come." Jack Spacek, Lead Chemist
The final replacement monomer allowed the team to create the coating for 1/20th of the cost of versions with other additives, saving the company substantially.
By cutting costs, we could achieve higher profit margins and were also able to expand our company’s coatings business into different industries, said Spacek.
We definitely plan to use Reaxys for many more experiments to come.
*Names have been changed to protect rights to innovation