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Stephen Ward-Smith
I'm the Key Account Manager at Malvern Instruments and have been since 2007. This involves working on a truly global basis with our multinational customers on both technical and business issues. Prior to this, I spent twelve years as the laser diffraction product specialist at Malvern. In all I’ve now been in materials characterization for close to twenty years, having discovered an interest in the field while studying Chemistry at Manchester University. As a result, I went on to take a Masters in Biomolecular Technology at Leicester University, focusing on macromolecular characterization techniques. This was followed by a PhD at Nottingham University where I looked at food emulsion structure using laser diffraction, zeta potential and rheology. Outside of work I enjoy cooking and walking, and I regularly perform Gilbert and Sullivan operettas on stage. I've also directed and choreographed, but am not a good dancer!

Dynamic Light Scattering, Kinexus, Laser Diffraction, Mastersizer, Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis, Nanosight, Rheometry, Size Exclusion Chromatography, Tech Talk, X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), Zetasizer »

[5 Dec 2017 | ]

It was my great pleasure to present as part of the Worcestershire Innovation Network at their WINN Wednesday event on the 22nd of November, showcasing the best in innovation across Worcestershire.
This included a local company which makes artificial kneecaps and hips, an insight into the building of genomics studies of patients with rare diseases and cancers, an update on the appeal to get a state-of-the-art surgical robot for removal of prostate tumors (reducing discomfort, scarring and hospital stay post-operation). Jess Antley, head of WINN, also gave an update on a new shared space/collaboration …

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Meet the Experts, Particle size, Tech Talk »

[30 May 2017 | ]

On April 26th, 2017, I had the great pleasure of being invited to talk as part of the very first Malvern TEDx evening, held at the Coachhouse Theatre in Great Malvern.  It was a really enjoyable event, and the talks are now on YouTube for you all to view!

I gave a top-level overview of how so many of the products and devices we consume or encounter on a daily basis are specifically designed by chemists and other scientists, so that they work the way we need or want them to. From …

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[22 Nov 2016 | ]

ISO/TC 281 Fine Bubble Technology
Next week (24-25 November) sees the UK host an ISO meeting for Technical Committee 281 in fine and ultrafine bubbles. These are bubbles <100 micron in size and have many applications.
Fine bubbles (1- 100 microns) have many applications including water treatment, medical imaging and drug delivery. Ultra fine bubbles (<100 nm)  are used in cleaning, food, agricultural and aqua cultural applications. The new technologies available here are increasing in use; for example, many new washing machines have bubble generators in them for enhanced cleaning.
There is a large increase in …

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Customer experience, Meet the Experts, Zeta potential, Zetasizer »

[13 Oct 2016 | ]

Water Treatment
The 7th International Conference and exhibition on Water Wastewater and Environmental Monitoring (WWEM) will take place at Telford, England on 2-3 November 2016.
We are giving a workshop on Thursday 3rd at 11:00 (in room 7).
This is “A brief introduction to zeta potential and sizing techniques in the water industry” and will mainly be focused on zeta potential which is gaining popularity as a monitor of particle instability to optimize the addition of expensive treatment chemicals, ultimately saving money.
Seasonal and geographical variation means the amount of chemical coagulant that needs …

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Insitec, Meet the Experts, Tech Talk »

[10 Oct 2016 | ]

ISO16332 – Oil / Water separators
A while ago, I wrote a blog “Characterizing filter efficiency in diesel engines – ISO16332” about a cell we were designing to meet the challenges of new filters in filter efficiency testing. This has now been successfully launched and has quite a few installs at different customer sites.
The key features were a straight pass through system (no bends which could cause shearing) and a unique design which couples a narrow path length with optimization of the flow within the cell to meet the high concentrations …

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Insitec, Mastersizer, Spraytec, Tech Talk »

[3 Sep 2015 | ]

A large amount of testing is being performed globally to optimize the efficiency of oil/water separators in diesel engines.
The filters remove any solid components (rust, paint chips) that may cause wear on the engine as well as undissolved water (that will be present in the diesel).
Large water droplets are reasonably easy to remove, but increasingly the water droplets are present in the form of a fine emulsion. The recent addition of various fuel additives (especially in low sulphur diesels) act as surfactants and have the unwanted side effect of reducing …

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Particle shape, Particle size, Tech Talk »

[10 Jul 2015 | ]

The longer you work at Malvern Instruments, the more likely you are to see anything and everything as something which has been optimized by material characterization in some form. As it’s the week of The Open at St Andrews, let’s take the golf course as an example. Surely particle science has no place here does it? Well it does, in fact, it has been deliberately designed to have a particularly perfect particle size.
The most obvious place to start, but the hardest to escape from, is the bunker. The particle size …

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Meet the Experts »

[24 Oct 2013 | ]

Seeing apparitions of method transfer challenges?
Poltergeist activity causing you to move laboratory?
Thoughts of writing size measurements of materials methods spooking you?
The truth is we naturally fear the unknown and if we considered all the unknowns we can sleep easy, without being woken up by bumps in the night.
When designing a method for transfer many things need to be considered.
Is the laboratory built on ancient Indian burial ground? Is the temperature likely to vary? Will it take longer to get a good background in a different country if you are using …

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Laser Diffraction »

[25 Dec 2012 | ]
Santa’s Christmas dispersant list

For wet laser diffraction measurements it can be useful to have a variety of different types of dispersant available so you can measure any compound that gets presented to you.
Of course water is always the best starting point, but unfortunately many compounds dissolve in water.
At this time of year we thought we’d cover what every well equipped solvent cabinet wants for Christmas.
Alcohols – ethanol can be useful for materials like gypsum, but the best all round alcohol is Isopropyl alcohol. Cement disperses well in it, and so does chocolate.
Something with …

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Corporate, Mastersizer, Tech Talk »

[31 Jul 2012 | ]
Lost in translation: the pitfalls of method transfer

One of the most important parts of my job is aiding multinationals with transferring methods between sites. You may think that, with the SOP function present in Malvern’s products, saving methods and emailing them to the other sites guarantees easy method transfer. However this is not always the case as sometimes the ability to send the method electronically is forgotten about and paper instructions are not ideal. Often this leads to analysis conditions being subtly different between sites.
Sampling and dispersion are the key parts of a method that need to be …

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Laser Diffraction, Particle shape, Particle size, Tech Talk »

[28 Jan 2011 | ]
Shape and tone(r) this New Year!

I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season and that 2011 finds you happy and healthy!  However, I’m also sure that following the festivities a fair number of us are giving more than a passing thought to our size and shape distributions, and if you are following a new fitness regime that it’s still working for you a month into 2011! Now, despite the fact that they say the camera adds ten pounds (or should that be 4.536 kgs?), I am going to recommend that one of the most …

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Laser Diffraction, Particle size, Tech Talk »

[20 Dec 2010 | ]
Pharmaceutical compliance

Although I haven’t been at Malvern quite that long, Malvern Instruments has been delivering particle characterization solutions to the pharmaceutical industry over 30 years. Over those years laser diffraction has become one of the most widely used techniques for particle size analysis throughout the pharmaceutical industry, with applications from product development through to production and quality control.
As discussed in ICH Topic Q6A, particle size may have a significant influence on product solubility or bioavailability, processability, stability, dose-content uniformity, and appearance. Wherever particle size or particle size distribution is found to …

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Laser Diffraction, Particle size, Tech Talk »

[19 Nov 2010 | ]
Volcanic Ash – When is it safe to fly a plane through?

When is it safe to fly a plane through volcanic ash?
Data on particle size, shape, and terminal velocities of volcanic ash particles are required to understand how the irregularly-shaped grains are likely to affect both aircraft and public health. Being able to make this kind of statement makes it easy for me to get up in the mornings! It is always nice to know your work can genuinely influence the wider world. With the current eruption in Indonesia volcanic ash is again a hot issue.
In April and May 2010, large …

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Laser Diffraction, Meet the Experts, Particle size »

[5 Nov 2010 | ]
Why do you measure particle size?

Hi. As a Key Account Technical Specialist at Malvern Instruments I work with laser diffraction and other particle characterization systems.
One of the most interesting parts of my job is learning about the myriad ways in which people use particle size data. Everyone who buys one of our particle size analyzers, whether for use in the lab or on plant is clearly interested in quantifying particle size but their motivations are incredibly diverse. There are still fascinating things I learn on a daily basis after nearly 20 years in the field …

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