Protective coatings and harmful substances

Substituting harmful substances is an ongoing trend in the coatings industry. However, it is not an easy one. Especially in protective coatings, which should last for decades, any loss in performance leads to more corrosion which also results in a lower sustainability of the coating. We spoke with experts from the industry about the difficult task.

“The next step will be a coating system for bridges with an expected durability of 40 to 50 years" Image source: Elroi -
Never touch a running system is clearly a mindset, that is not uncommon when it comes to protective coatings. And not without good reason. Reliable corrosion protection is important and experiments that fail could have devastating consequences. “After nearly 50 years of successful use of the epoxy and polyurethane technology in protective coatings, these technologies are nowadays the standard coating system for corrosion protection”, explains Frank Bayer, from the German Coatings manufacturer Geholit+Wiemer.
Frank Bayer, Geholit+Wiemer

Introducing new technologies can therefore be difficult. However, there are developments that can reduce the usage of isocyanates, as Bayer adds: “The complete groups of polysiloxanes and water-borne pure acrylics can be used as an alternative to the common polyurethane technology.”

Marie-Josee Dery-Chauvette from epoxy resin supplier Olin emphasises, that reducing the usage of harmful substances is a lot of work. “Substitution is not a one-for-one, like-for-like process and involves compromise”, she explains and adds: “the compromise will be in efficiency and productivity as the cure profile – the ability to control, modify speed and degree of cure – will most likely be impacted with the change in hardener chemistry.”

Marie Josee Dery-Chauvette, Olin EpoxyEven though replacing substances that cause some concern, both experts are optimistic. Frank Bayer is sure, that “an innovative chemical industry will bring up new less harmful and sustainable raw materials suitable for coatings.” He adds that this trend is driven by customer demand as well as regulations. To achive such goals “it is important for contractors and owners to work together with formulators and raw material suppliers as part of the solution”, explains Marie-Josee Dery-Chauvette.

Of course, reducing harmful substances is only one way to make coatings more sustainable. And sustainability is seen by both of them as a major trend for the future. More about the experts’ views on the sustainability topic can be found in European Coatings Journal issue 4/2021, where we published an interview with them.

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