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Markes International Ltd celebrates its 25th anniversary

Markes’ co-founder Alun Cole commented: “When we founded the company in 1997, we had no doubts it would be a success because we knew that the technology we were developing was going to be ground-breaking in the world of analytical instrumentation. Needless to say, we’re delighted that 25 years later, we’re not only still leading the field in terms of innovation but also, continuing to thrive and grow.”

Managing Director Tim Hawkins added: “Our instruments are ubiquitous world-over wherever SVOCs and VOCs are searched for or analysed, so our markets are incredibly diverse, ranging from biomarker analysis to detect diseases such as cancer; food and beverage industries for aroma and flavour profiling; automotive industries for exhaust and tyre emissions analysis, interior air quality monitoring, environmental, through to defence and forensic sectors.

“That market diversity enables the company to ride out economic storms. When one market is depressed or in decline, the slack is taken up by other, often newer, ones.

“For instance, we’re finding a substantial appetite for our instruments within the environmental monitoring segment, where they’re increasingly being used to identify and quantify Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in air, and microplastics in water.

“Also, our ethos of constant product and application innovation continually opens new markets to us. An example of this includes our recently developed and launched hydrogen-certified, Multi-Gas enabled range which can run on hydrogen as well as the usual carrier gas, helium, which is a non-renewable natural resource, estimated to completely run out within 20 or 25 years.

“So naturally enough, laboratories are keen to future-proof themselves and switch to other gases such as nitrogen or hydrogen; our instruments are the only ones in the world which are able to use all three gases – helium, hydrogen and nitrogen – and also be hydrogen-certified.”

Founded in 1997, Markes International now operates globally through an international network of distributors and its own technical centres in the USA, China and Germany. The company was founded by Elizabeth Woolfenden and Alun Cole specifically to develop more efficient thermal desorption (TD) instruments than those available at the time. Thanks to revolutionary trap-based focusing technology and associated patents, Markes is still the world’s foremost manufacturer in its field, and its instruments, along with the company itself, have won numerous awards over the years, including three separate Queen’s Awards: one for International Trade in 2015; and in 2019, one for International Trade and another for Innovation.

Markes launched its entry-level TD instrument, the UNITY™, in 1998. Within three years, the company had gone on to launch its ULTRA™ and Air Server™ instruments, thereby widening its sampling options to include canisters and online air streams, on top of its existing tube systems. Further launches followed: the TT24-7™ in 2005 to allow for continual unattended monitoring; the series 2 thermal desorbers in 2008; and in 2016, the introduction of its xr™ series of instruments, including the flagship TD100-xr™.

Also in 2016 came Markes’ innovative HiSorb™ probes, used for high-capacity sorptive extraction of both liquids and solids, from either immersive or headspace sampling methods.

In 2018 Markes launched an automated sample preparation platform, Centri®, which combines four different types of sample extraction: HiSorb, SPME, headspace and thermal desorption – all of which use Markes’ proprietary trap-based focusing technique to concentrate samples into the small volumes needed to ensure highly sensitive gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC–MS) analysis. This enhanced sensitivity, combined with the comprehensive and automated sampling techniques, has ensured Centri’s popularity with analysts world over, and the platform has won numerous awards including a TASIA (‘The Innovation award’ of The Analytical Scientist magazine) and a Wiley Scientific Award.

Markes’ Multi-Gas range was launched in July 2021 to wide acclaim. Before the year’s end, the tri-gas-enabled instruments had been named on the Analytical Scientist Innovation Awards list for 2021.

To celebrate its 25 successful years, the company laid on a day of social activities for all staff in its UK headquarters. “It was fitting to share the company’s landmark achievement with all staff, and as a team, we are all very much looking forward to the next 25 years ahead,” said Cole.