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ADVERTORIAL: ‘Chemically intelligent’ corrosion inhibitors cut Co2 emissions and reduce costs


Three years into a doctorate Patrick Dodds almost gave up his research looking for a safer treatment to prevent metal corrosion, but then he made a breakthrough that is today changing the face of the industry.

Corrosion costs the world economy trillions of dollars a year and many of the existing solutions have been problematic.

For example, in Europe, the most widely used corrosion inhibitor, Hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)], is banned, as the ingredient was found to cause cancer in both humans and animals – a story at the heart of the 2000 movie Erin Brockovich.

Driven by his desire to create a corrosion inhibitor with the same protective potential as the banned substance, yet kinder to the planet, Dr Dodds, Founder and CEO of Hexigone Inhibitors, trialled hundreds of combinations of active ingredients to develop an effective alternative.

His doctorate at Swansea University focused on replacing the “nasty chemicals” that have historically been used in corrosion inhibitors with sustainable alternatives.

He said: “I was about to give up as nothing was working, but that’s research for you. In the end, we found a system that worked, but we had to test for about a month as we didn’t believe it!”

After this breakthrough, he formed the company and pitched his idea at the 2019 Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies Competition and won the Enabling Technologies category.

This achievement offered the financial boost needed to patent his high-performance corrosion inhibitors which make coatings ‘chemically intelligent’, offering a safer, smarter and up to ten times more effective alternative to protect metal assets.

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Patrick Dodds (left) founded Hexigone Inhibitors, a firm that is changing the face of the corrosion industry

The Royal Society of Chemistry award came at the right time, as with any start-up journey, finances were getting tight and the company needed a cash injection to expand manufacturing and their global sales strategy.

“We had a great idea in the lab and I said to a colleague imagine having your own corrosion inhibitor company, but it’s not as easy as that,” added Dr Dodds. “You need money to get going. In hard tech, like many of those in this competition you have to get through a validation period.

“There is so much incredible tech out there. But our innovation speaks for itself. To take the prize back to the team was pretty important. It bolstered them. The award also gave us a lot of exposure and credentials.”

In fact, the company, which is based in Port Talbot, Wales, now has 12 members of staff and pitched in January 2020 at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Investment Catalyst event in partnership with the UK Business Angels Association that led to more investment.

Their first orders came from outside the UK and it has a global market presence. More than 40 coating companies are formulating with Hexigone Inhibitors’ product in aerospace, automotive, architecture and energy.



Hexigone Inhibitors caters for a global market with a diverse range of applications for its products

Dr Dodds, who completed a chemistry degree in Cardiff and had worked in pharmaceutical science, said a sizeable amount of CO 2 comes from the global steel industry, and around three per cent of that is from replacing corroded assets.

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His product makes the lifecycle of steel last longer, which reduces the production of CO 2 and costs.

Speaking about the RSC competition, Dr Dodds said he wants to encourage a more entrepreneurial spirit in science.

His advice to those competing this year is “Don’t down-sell yourself or product, talk about what a great product it is, don’t be humble. Be positive and enthusiastic from your core.”

From the 120 high-quality applications, the 24 shortlisted companies will pitch their plans to a highly experienced judging panel at the end of June.

If they win, they not only get £20,000 prize money, but a year of one-on-one support from a specially assigned Royal Society of Chemistry mentor, and a further £20,000 available as a business acceleration grant.

For more details about the competition and to register for the audience for the final pitch event, visit the website.



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