Additives Will Follow the Global Megatrend of Sustainability
Research and development in additives has a clear focus
Nina Musche, product manager at Shamrock Technologies Europe, explains how additives can contribute to more sustainable coatings and comments on the potential of multi-functional systems.
What do you expect additives R&D to focus on in the years to come?
Nina Musche: Additives will follow the global megatrend of sustainability. This involves both the sustainability of the product itself — i.e., increasingly renewable or bio-based raw materials — and the improvement of the coatings so that they last longer. Sustainability here means longer maintenance cycles, that is, less time and energy in the production of the systems or in drying. New catalysts can be used to select lower baking temperatures or greatly reduce the time. Translated for our surface additives, we will pay more attention to the protection of the surfaces in order to maintain the appearance on the one hand, but also the protection performance for longer on the other.
Do you see any potential in the development of multi-functional additives?
Musche: Many additives today already have various functionalities, but they usually have one basic property. Surface additives can increase slip, create a soft-feel effect, and at the same time increase scratch resistance. But all this has to do with the basic property of migration to the surface. Combining basic properties in one additive seems to have many advantages: smaller product variety, narrower procurement process, and less inventory. However, it also limits the flexibility in the development of coating formulations. If an additive affects both defoaming and rheology, you will almost inevitably have to compromise on at least one of the parameters, or just use another specialized additive. Therefore, I do not believe that there is a large market for such additives. Of course, there will always be niches, whether development is worthwhile for them remains an open question.
Surface additives can increase slip, create a soft-feel effect, and at the same time increase scratch resistance.
How can additives contribute to more sustainable coatings?
Musche: Additives are only the smaller part of a coating formulation, so their impact on sustainability (if measured in bio-based components) is also less than the binder. In case of surface additives, for example, vegetable waxes based on carnauba are already state of the art in many coating applications. Others, such as bee or rice-bran waxes just make their way into industrial applications. The production of building blocks from renewable raw materials has been progressing more rapidly lately. Monomers and polymers from renewable raw materials will not directly replace their cousins from fossil raw materials, but there will be increased alternatives even for large products such as ethylene. From there the subsequent stages can continue in a sustainable manner. As described earlier, additives have a huge indirect influence on sustainability. Another example is the improved de-inking at the end of life of the coated goods.