Interview: “Longer life cycles for buildings
To what extent are developments such as progressive urbanisation influencing the development of construction chemical products?
Wolf Meyer-Hevekerl: The lack of space associated with urbanisation and the higher demand for affordable living space are leading to greater living densities and modular construction concepts. The construction chemical products employed must increasingly meet these requirements in the future. The desired longer life cycles for buildings go hand in hand with sustainable building materials that are more environmentally friendly, have a longer service life, and are easier to recycle. Product development is therefore increasingly concerned with water-borne systems and the increased use of renewable raw materials, which can also be employed in new manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing.
Wolf Meyer-Hevekerl is working at Worlée in the area of application technology.
Where do you see further overarching trends in construction chemicals?
Meyer-Hevekerl: In addition to sustainability, functional coatings or building materials are the key words here. Today, it is no longer enough for a product just to fulfil the intended task. Additional functions, such as self-cleaning, antimicrobial properties and reduction in the levels of harmful substances, are already being integrated into construction chemical systems today. In this regard, care must be taken to ensure that the solutions found are as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible.
Which regulations are having a particular influence on this area?
Meyer-Hevekerl: REACH is having a special influence on product development in Europe. The partial elimination of raw materials as well as the restrictions resulting from the registration obligation for new developments in the form of greater outlay on time and costs are presenting development departments with specific challenges. It is obvious that these fundamentals make it more difficult to implement creative ideas. New approaches in product development are therefore necessary.
What is the focus of research and development in epoxy resins?
Meyer-Hevekerl: Developments in hardeners will continue to focus on VOC-free and water-borne products. At Worlée, our efforts on polymer-curing agents also focused on these two areas. These topics pose great challenges, particularly in the context of polymer structures as defined under REACH. Renewable raw materials are also an area of growing interest.