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Saturday, 22 February 2020
Raw materials & technologies, Raw materials

Biocides: "No new active ingredients in the foreseeable future"

Friday, 5 April 2019

Biocides play a major role in keeping paints and coatings free of harmful microorganisms. However, regulation of biocides is affecting their usage more and more. We spoke with David Zilm, CMO at Vink Chemicals about strategies to cope with the current challenges.

Fighting harmful microorganisms is getting harder as the number of usable biocides is declining. (Source: motorolca -

Fighting harmful microorganisms is getting harder as the number of usable biocides is declining. (Source: motorolca -

What are the current challenges facing paint manufacturers when using biocides in their products?

David Zilm: The regulatory fundamentals are becoming increasingly stricter and restricting the number of biocides available on the market. Printing ink and adhesive manufacturers who have to meet the standards for indirect food contact – keyword methyl isothiazolinone (MIT) – face particular challenges. The manufacturers of coatings, printing inks and adhesives must, and naturally want to, comply with their legal obligations and it is important to offer our customers solutions based on the biocides available on the market.

David Zilm, CMO Vink Chemicals

David Zilm, CMO at Vink Chemicals, will give a lecture about plant hygiene and system cleaning at the EC Technology Forum "Biocides – preservation in challenging times.”

What do these solutions typically look like?

Zilm: Together with our customers, we review the biocides used in the formulations and then we make a joint decision as to whether or not the legal requirements can be met by adjusting the dosages. If this is not the case, we work with the customer to develop a new product, generally using a suitable combination of approved biocides. This combination needs to be able to combat a wide range of harmful micro-organisms, be economical in use and naturally pose no threat to the user.

Are new regulatory-compliant biocides actually being developed in the market?

Zilm: At the moment, it cannot be assumed that new active ingredients will be developed in the foreseeable future. It is extremely expensive to develop a new product, get approval, and conduct all mandatory tests and studies. Development costs are estimated to be in the double-digit millions and even then there is no certainty that the active ingredient will actually be approved.  

So, all that remains is to use the existing active ingredients? In theory, yes. But, apart from the active ingredients themselves, we also take a close look at industrial hygiene with the customers. Of course, we didn’t invent this approach, but given the current fundamentals it is a good starting point for manufacturing biocidal coating systems that are regulatory-compliant.

What do you mean?

Zilm: Many of the active ingredients used so far in certain coating systems, e.g. for the DIY sector, have already had their approval revoked or will no longer be approved in the future. Approved active ingredients must be added in the highest-necessary, but lowest-possible doses. Dosages of approved biocides can, if necessary, be reduced by improving pipeline hygiene. We recently develop a pipeline cleaning system that is a combination of chemical active ingredient and mechanical cleaning. This makes it possible to boost the effectiveness of industrial hygiene and to develop the optimum biocide dosage in the coating systems.

You will talk about this topic at the EC Technology Forum "Biocides - preservation in challenging times" in May 2019. How exactly does this combination of chemical and mechanical raw cleaning work?

Zilm: With the systems currently available on the market (e.g. biocides or H2O2), the pipeline systems cannot be cleaned sustainably. We have developed biocide-free cleaners that literally break up the biofilms in the pipelines. This is followed by mechanical cleaning, in which these dissolved deposits are driven out of the system by means of air pressure.

Is this associated with higher costs?

Zilm: Although the individual cleaning process is more expensive than conventional cleaning, this newly developed cleaning process is very effective and does not have to be carried out as frequently. This means that the additional costs pay for themselves

The Interview was conducted by Sonja Schulte

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