Bio-based coating wall paint neutralizes formaldehyde in indoor air

While the demand for bio-based coatings is growing, many customers is still reluctant to choose bio-based formulations due to cost. One approach is to offer an added benefit of other functionalities to have customers embrace bio-based solutions, say Margot Klerkx and Ad Lankhaar of PPG.

Bio-based coating wall paint neutralizes formaldehyde in indoor air. Image: robert - Fotolia -

Their team has developed a bio-based wall paint with an air-purifying effect that filters formaldehyde out of indoor air.

How prevalent would you say is the usage of bio-based materials in architectural coatings at the moment?

Margot Klerkx and Ad Lankhaar: To this point, bio-based products are not very common on the architectural coatings market. There are a couple of small companies that offer bio-based products, but there is not much large-scale production. In addition, in the sector there are still problems in terms of the quality of bio-based products not matching those of fossil products.

In addition to quality, where do you see the main challenges in introducing bio-based products to the market?

Margot Klerkx and Ad Lankhaar: A main problem is of course price. For the majority of customers, the bio-based content is not the reason to purchase, meaning that they will not pay more for products based on renewable raw materials. As a coatings manufacturer you will have to either make the product the same price as a fossil-based option or introduce additional functionalities or benefits for the customer.

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Margot Klerkx and Ad Lankhaar, PPG

This is the route we took at PPG, developing a bio-based wall paint that not only offers a sustainable option with a high content of renewable raw materials but also improves indoor air climate. The idea behind this double benefit was to bring our company’s vision of sustainable and innovative solutions alive.

Could you expand on the problem with indoor air and explain the air purification effect?

Margot Klerkx and Ad Lankhaar: As houses become more insulated, the good effects of insulation come hand in hand with a decrease in the quality of indoor air climate. Indoor air increasingly contains VOC, the most harmful being formaldehyde, that can for instance be emitted by furniture, carpets and other fabrics. In some cases, indoor air can even be ten times as polluted as the air outside. The “Sigma Air Pure” wall paint can filter up to 70% of formaldehyde from the air as it irreversibly reacts with amines in the paint.

What were the main challenges in the development process?

Margot Klerkx and Ad Lankhaar: Over three years and a lot of testing went into the development of the product as we developed it from scratch. For the binder we used a tailor-made resin by DSM that is made from renewable resources. Our target was the highest possible bio-based content, so not adding fossil raw materials was a challenge. While having a bio-based content of 45% and a packaging from recycled materials, during application we did want for the customer to not notice that the product is bio-based. PPG’s “Sigma” range is aimed at professional painters who are accustomed to the brand and its high-quality standard e.g. on yellowing, drying time and weathering. We had to make sure that our bio-based formulation is worthy of our well-known brand.

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