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Titanium dioxide - old known but red hot

Talk 1: Titanium dioxide classification for Europe – definition, measurement methods and decision procedure
Dr Thomas Koch, Kronos Titan, Germany

This talk will introduce the EU - Classification of particulate TiO2 products and particulate TiO2 containing mixtures, both in powder form as well as the methods for measurement and the procedure of decision for classification. Since October 1st of 2021 all particulate TiO2 products and particulate TiO2 containing mixtures in powder form must be classified as potentially carcinogenic if they contain more than 1 % mass of TiO2 particles or TiO2 containing particles with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 10 µm. After intensively testing of measurement methods the Analytical Task force of TDMA decided to recommend EN 15051-2 as described in the standard as a benchmark method for the Classification purpose. Theis recommendation was brought to the European Commission and passed the Commission Desktop and in follow up two CARACAL meetings positively to be used for the classification purpose. Off course some questions around classification of TiO2 are still left open, therefore the TDMA signalized to the commission to look for other possible methods and to further investigate the existing methods during the next years. In Addition to the EN 15051-2 after standard procedure the TDMA recommend EN 15051-3 in combination with an ELPI device (= modification to the procedure described in the standard) and DIN 55992-1 with a cascade impactor or an PM 10 device (= modification to the procedure described in the standard). In addition, instead of the filter foams EN 15051-2 can be used also with slight modification of the outlet of the rotating drum together with a PM 10 device. In 2021 German Institute BAuA developed a guideline for classification, which, based on the measurement results with the recommended methods enables to decide if a product must be classified or not. This excellent procedure was accepted from Commission and CARACAL and can be downloaded from BAuA website.

Talk 2:  Titanium dioxide prices raised to offset higher costs but long-term existential challenges loom larger
Reg Adams, Artikol, United Kingdom

Undoubtedly, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has been the single most important factor affecting all world economies and industries over the past two years. The pandemic era is almost unprecedented: forecasting has become much more difficult. In June 2020, the IMF forecast a fall of 4.9% in world GDP. In fact, the outcome was not so bad: a 3.1% fall in 2020, to be followed by a bounce-back of 5.9% in 2021 and 4.9% in 2022 (discounting inflation). There have been some surprises, some pleasant, others much less so. Demand for certain products increased strongly: notably DIY products, architectural paints, packaging (for on-line retail), and heathcare plastics, rubber and textiles.
Facilitated by an upsurge in Chinese exports to most world markets, especially Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe, global TiO2 pigment shipments increased by 4.6% in 2020 – following two years of decline. The average export price of Chinese TiO2 pigment went below $US 1.80 per kilo (fob) in mid-2020 and sharp-witted traders bought substantial tonnages at bargain prices in order to resell later at a handsome profit. TiO2 pigment is ideal for this supply/demand buffering function because it has a long shelf-life and is relatively expensive, compared to the costs of freight and storage. Meanwhile, many non-Chinese producers cut back their plant operating rates to try to match supply with sales at reasonably stable prices. Thereby, they sacrificed market share.
There were more surprises in 2021. Ocean freight rates on all routes soared, especially for 20-foot containers suitable for TiO2 pigment shipments. Energy costs rebounded, with crude oil prices going beyond $US 80 per barrel for the first time since mid-2014. Regional prices for chlorine and sulfuric acid increased, partly due to supply shortages caused by extreme weather events (floods and hurricanes). Problems in South Africa and Sierra Leone caused worldwide TiO2 feedstock shortages. To offset these cost pressures in a climate of booming demand, the major TiO2 pigment producers raised their prices, quarter by quarter, by about 30% between Q4 2020 and Q4 2021. Chinese TiO2 pigment export prices have risen by more than 60% over the same time-frame. Price increases of this magnitude have been only slightly diluted by the general €uro inflation rate of around 4% per annum.
Outside of China, there has been very little investment in new TiO2 production capacity. In fact, there has actually been some retrenchment, notably at sulfate-route plants in the Ruhr Valley region of Germany. Progress on developing new titanium mining projects has been hampered by the pandemic, so the TiO2 feedstock market will continue to be tight, offering little prospect of price reduction for the next few years. Against this background, TiO2 pigment prices are likely to rise faster than general inflation in 2022/23.
The industry's existential challenges are also assuming greater importance. EU legislation on labelling paint and other TiO2-containing products, based on its classification as a Class 2 carcinogen, took effect at the beginning of October 2021. At worst, this might lead to a growing reluctance to repaint properties and a deterioration in overall standards of protective and decorative performance due to the substitution of TiO2 by alternative ingredients. Growing awareness of the climate change crisis presents another major challenge. Currently operating TiO2 pigment plants are typically responsible for nearly 5 kilos CO2 equivalent emissions per kilo of pigment output, employing conventional sulfate or chloride processes. Pressures to find new methods to drastically reduce this carbon footprint are bound to intensify.

Talk 3: Influence of paint quality on the environmental footprint of architectural paints
Steven De Backer, Chemours, Belgium

Architectural paints play an important role in the decoration of interior walls. In that respect, hiding is a key performance factor, ideally without compromising other paint properties. It is generally accepted that this should be done with minimal impact for the environment. The environmental footprint can be minimized by optimizing the efficiency of paint ingredients, but also by increasing the lifetime of the paint on the wall. All these aspects will be largely influenced by the quality of the paint and its ingredients. High quality ingredients, like titanium dioxide, will influence several of these characteristics. This paper discusses how specially designed titanium dioxide can reduce the paint consumption and hence influence in a positive way the environmental footprint of the paint throughout the value chain.

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