Desiccants, But Not As We Know Them


London, Brownell Ltd - Silica gel bags, which have been keeping packaging and sensitive technology dry for generations, could soon be a thing of the past, with North London Company Brownell Ltd now ready to export VMAP - a new and far more practical desiccant.

Unveiled in the spring after several years of development, VMAP represents a breakthrough in desiccant technology, standing out in its versatility. It can be moulded or machined to complex shapes as required to fit specific applications, and can be fixed in place easily with adhesives or screws.

Each cubic centimeter has an effective surface area of 600m3 and goes further than traditional desiccants in not only dealing with moisture but can adsorb odours and organic volatiles too. Unlike traditional gel bags, it is non-toxic, and it can also be 'recycled' - when saturated, it can be reactivated to recover its absorptive abilities.

VMAP, which stands for Versatile Moisture Adsorbent Polymer is made from silica gel molecular sieves bound into a polymer, and was developed through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Brownell and Reading University. Over the past three years, Brownell funded research by graduate student Pierre Tchale, supervised by Reading's Professor Howard Calquhoun and Dr Wayne Hayes.

It has a huge potential in a wide range of applications including electronics, telecoms, aerospace, defence and optics, preventing moisture from affecting sensitive systems such as electronics, instruments and industrial enclosures, which may be deployed in hostile environments affected by humidity or extreme variations in temperature.

VMAP is also useful in packaging solutions, providing controlled and ongoing absorptive capabilities in specialist or long term packaging, and it has the advantage that it can be fixed in place so, unlike desiccant bags, it will not move about or generate dust or fibres in transit.

Keen to reach an international customer base with VMAP, Brownell approached UK Trade & Investment to find the most suitable overseas markets. From extensive discussion and analysis with international trade adviser Bryan Treherne, India, the US and France were identified as the best target markets and the company was introduced to essential contacts to establish a presence in those territories.

In a first approach to the Indian market, Brownell was introduced to the head of UKTI's commercial section in Bangalore, who provided contacts in the Indian aircraft industry, and these are now being followed up to establish a presence in Asia.
With UKTI's help, Brownell has also established a subsidiary in France, and is now in the process of setting up another in Portugal.

In the US, Brownell has established a partnership with a US company and is working with them to introduce VMAP into the American market, with the pharmaceutical, semiconductor and packaging industries their priority target industries. UKTI assistance has also been provided to help Brownell exhibit at trade shows and other suitable industry events. One successful example was their attendance at the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology's annual event which led to several new customers in Brownell's target industries.

Brownell has also made the most of UKTI's training courses, including one on selecting an agent, and staff have put this training into immediate effect at shows and seminars, helping them assess the suitability of potential agents based in the company's target markets. Brownell staff have also attended UKTI-supported events such as the South London International Trade Forum which focused on the Brazilian market and the New Opportunities in China event.

Brownell additionally made use of UKTI's New Products from Britain service, which publicizes British products in their target markets to raise their profile among media and other contacts.

UKTI international trade adviser Bryan Treherne said: "Brownell has been as very active and positive client, using our contacts abroad to maximize their opportunities in their target markets."

Brownell's managing director Martin Partridge said: "Brownell is delighted to work closely with UKTI in developing new opportunities for its products in a global market. UKTI opens the doors to international markets, connecting the right people with the right opportunities."

Notes to Editors

1. UK Trade & Investment is the Government organisation that provides integrated support services for UK companies engaged in international trade and foreign businesses focused on the UK as an inward investment location. It brings together the work of teams in 200 British embassies and FCO posts overseas and Whitehall departments. For more information on UKTI visit www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk
Information on services available can be found at: uktradeinvest.gov.uk/ukti/appmanager/ukti/ourservices

2. Brownell Ltd was founded in 1963 for the design, manufacture and development of desiccators, desiccant bags, humidity indicators, protection barriers, pressure relief valves and a range of dry gas purge systems to prevent moisture and atmospheric related problems in electronic, optic, packaging containers and many other commercial and military applications. The Brownell range of products has been developed to include a series of moisture and atmospheric protection solutions for instruments, commercial products and packaging containers. A program of continued research and development has seen the introduction of a range of new products including Immersion Proof Breathers, Tank Vent Dryers and the NEPS1000 Advantage Gas Purging System. The company operates in most international markets and has partner companies in the USA, France, Canada and Australia. The company currently employs 30 personnel and is situated on a modern industrial estate in North West London. For more information visit www.brownell.co.uk

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