Interview: Brian TARBIT from Seqens Custom Specialties


Middlesbrough & Billingham  manufacturing sites joined the Seqens group in late 2017. The sites are celebrating their 150th year anniversary in the UK. Seqens Custom Specialties is a leader custom manufacture and speciality ingredients often based on its expertise in combined reaction/distillation. Over the years Seqens Custom Specialties has developed a growing portfolio of low toxicity proprietary products and environmentally friendly solvents. Its two flexible manufacturing sites in Middlesbrough  and Billingham  serve a diverse range  of  industries,  including agrochemical, personal care, flavour and fragrance, surface coatings, lubricant additives and a variety of other markets.

Distillation as a key process

The sites are recognized for their excellent reputation and technical strength, coupled to an outstanding EH&S performance and a long demonstrable history of customer focus, flexibility and responsiveness. One of their key platforms is distillation – 9 Distillation columns are available – with a maximum of 50th plates and up to 1.5M diameters, with heating up to 240°C with full ancillaries. This asset base was recently coupled to a new platform of peroxide oxidation to support the Seqens growth in Personal Care markets, and supported the launch of the “diols”, for which we have been recently awarded the trophy for innovation by Seqens.

Seqens Custom Specialties in UK entered the market offering the highest quality, lowest odour product at the lowest price and is gaining market share in this Fractional distillation plant at Chemoxy International Ltd field.

With a strong market position now (since its launch in 2016), the flagship product Chemoxycare®8 (Caprylylglycol or 1,2-Octanediol), has grown significantly. One of its main uses is in handwash found around the world in hospitals. It has a synergistic antibacterial effect in the formulation.

products for cosmetic applications

Chemoxycare®8 is being supported by the addition of other diols such as Chemoxycare®2EHG (2-ethylhexylglycerin) launched in mid-2018, and is followed by Chemoxycare®6 (1,2-Hexanediol) launched in early 2019. All these products are used as emollients and skin conditioning agent for cosmetic applications, specially in creams and ointment, and are preferred replacements of parabens imparting synergistic antimicrobial properties in cosmetics. To date, the global cosmetics market is growing by 7-10% per annum. It is noteworthy to notice that 1,2-hexanediol is more preferred in Asia, where they believe it has a softer feel on the skin.

working with other seqens activities

Middlesbrough & Billingham  sites are working with other activities within Seqens to either supplement their production utilising its scale and sophisticated distillation plants, or to utilise technology that exists within the group to make new own products for Seqens. For instance they are working on a project with Seqens CDMO where the UK manufacturing sites’ distillation and scale offer an alternative pathway for isolation of the product, which will supplement the CDMO activity production and potentially free up capacity if need be. Initial proof of concept is completed and both activities are working together to optimise the value chain for Seqens on this product. Seqens Custom Specialties has also identified a large use of Seqens’s proprietary products in downstream applications, some in flavour and fragrance but also in large volume agrochemical applications and might lead to further partnership within Seqens. Proteus by Seqens enzymatic technology has also attracted our attention. Indeed the use of enzymes has potential in several of Custom Specialties’ new products in the key step of the synthetic route.

Brian TARBIT, Global Technical & Business Development Manager at Seqens Custom Specialties