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Friday, 07 August 2020
Raw materials & technologies

Expert Voices on dispersing additives

Thursday, 23 July 2015

To disperse pigments in most cases additives are necessary to provide a working product. We asked Jamie Roy, Senior Principal Development Chemist, from Air Products regarding his opinion on modern technology for these additives.

Jamie Roy, Air Products and Chemicals

Jamie Roy, Air Products and Chemicals

1. If you think of electrostatic, sterical or electrosterical stabilisation. Which is the most promising principle?

While electrostatic and steric stabilisation are essential tools in a formulator's toolbox, electrosteric stabilisation appears to offer the most promise for performance optimisation.
Electrostatic stabilisation offers a robust and consistent repulsive force, but can cause difficulties and limitations in formulation breadth, pH control and letdown incompatibilities.
Steric stabilisation provides wide formulation latitude but is often quite difficult to use alone in achieving adequate dispersion stability. The combination of the two principles in electrosteric stabilisation often provides synergistic performance benefits, optimising dispersion stability, additive efficiency, and ease of formulation.
Electrosteric stabilisation is the common approach in many widely used high performance dispersants, and it is also the typical mechanism for formulators to achieve through combinations of lower cost electrostatic dispersants with sterically stabilising non-ionic surfactants and co-dispersants.
Finding the right dispersing additive is key, but developing formulation experience in optimizing the steric and ionic contributions in electrosterically stabilised systems offers opportunities for formulators to maximise performance and troubleshooting. Trends do appear to favour a shift to stronger steric character in dispersants, in part to minimise the negative impacts of counterions such as VOC, odour and water sensitivity, but also to increase formulation latitude.

2. How can technology further improve the versatility of dispersing agents?

There have been interesting advancements in dispersant chemistry, both in polymer optimisation as well as an increased understanding of structure-properties relationships. This is helping to bring dispersing agents of higher performance and versatility into the market and provides formulators with improved tools. This is certainly an important area for advancement, but the most impactful aspect of technology on dispersion may be the growing discussion and investigation into formulation techniques and component interactions.
Coating formulations are often built around the concept of multiple components that each provides specific performance attributes. However, there is growing interest in the secondary and tertiary benefits of additives, particularly surface active additives such as dispersing agents. Increased discussion between additive suppliers and formulators has identified interesting avenues for performance enhancement. We believe this to be an area where growing mutual understanding can offer significant benefits.

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