image of apiezon creator bill burch

How it all began - the origins of Apiezon

The Apiezon brand has been around for a long time. Over the years we’ve built up a well deserved reputation for quality, performance and reliability. In fact, the first Apiezon product was developed in 1926, and we thought it might be interesting to have a brief look at the origins of our brand.

The best invention stories start with an eccentric Inventor and so it is with the earliest Apiezon products. In our case, a Research Engineer by the name of C.R. “Bill” Burch.

“Bill” Burch  working for Metropolitan Vickers* in Manchester, England, developed low vapour pressure oils as a means of undertaking another experiment (impregnating pressboard with transformer oil under vacuum to increase its strength). Burch then discovered that these oils could be used to replace Mercury in Diffusion Pumps, and so the first oil filled Diffusion Pump Oil was born, almost by accident.

Burch christened his new products Apiezon (pronounced Ap-ee-ay-zon) from the Greek for “low pressure”). Other inventions followed, including an oil-operated Diffusion pump. During the 1930’s Apiezon products, including Apiezon pumps, were used by Nobel Prize winner John Cockroft and his colleagues at Cambridge University, in their work to “split the atom”. The oldest product still in our range, Q compound, dates from this time and was allegedly developed on the recommendation of Cockroft, who was looking for an effective temporary vacuum sealant to assist with his experiments. Almost 90 years later Apiezon Q compound, a mouldable, waterproof sealant with good vacuum properties in the lower vacuum range, is still doing this job successfully.

Apiezon products continued to be developed down the years, following the path of innovation first set out by Burch. Today we have a range of products used for applications that he and those early pioneers could only dream about (and possibly did!). Our aim is to continue in the footsteps of these early Innovators.  If you have suggestions or requirements as to how we can improve our products, or develop a new product, please do get in touch and let us know. You could be like Cockroft and help us develop a product as successful as Q Compound. It might not win you a Nobel prize, but you’d certainly feature in the next chapter of the history of Apiezon!


*Which later became GEC, then GEC Alsthom.  Apiezon was one of the product groups bought by our now Chairman when he purchased M&I Materials Ltd from GEC in 1993. Further history of M&I Materials can be seen at History of M&I Materials Ltd.