International industry gathering for titanium dioxide

A good 60 experts from the coatings industry recently met in Berlin for the second European Coatings Titanium Dioxide Forum to discuss new technical developments and of course the EU classification of titanium dioxide.

Andy White
Andy White from FP-Pigments described how important the optimum distance between the titanium dioxide pigments ist. (Picture: Jan Gesthuizen) -

The conference participants took up explanations of the current status of the classification process of titanium dioxide by Aline Rommert from the Association of German Coatings Manufacturers (VdL) surprisingly calmly.

One of the major concerns she expressed was the threat of a domino effect. After titanium dioxide, it would be likely that other powdery substances could come into focus. Although Rommert’s assessment was largely shared by the industry participants present, the reactions were surprisingly calm, even outside the lecture. 

Calm reactions to classification

In fact, the discussion of the classification issue was more pragmatic such as in the discussion groups. For example, some participants worked on the possibilities of developing improved titanium dioxide formulations for the future. The group moderated by Anabelle Elton-Legrix from Imerys dealt with the question of how it is possible to formulate paints with less than 1% titanium dioxide.

Elton-Legrix herself had previously presented in a lecture what coatings without titanium dioxide, or at least with a very small proportion of it, can achieve. There was general agreement in the discussion group that it would be difficult to do this – especially for inks and paints with low PVC. The participants basically did not see any real alternatives to titanium dioxide, as potential substitutes would be harmful to health, for example.

Although it was possible to avoid titanium dioxide here and there, the wet opacity suffered too much, making application very difficult. One possibility that was discussed in this context was air inclusions that could be supported by structured materials.

No more eco-labels?

Another discussion group dealt with the future of TiO2 as a pigment in the coatings industry. The classification was also addressed here. In fact, participants saw less the actual labeling of titanium dioxide as the biggest cut. In fact, many paints would now no longer receive environmental labels, which was seen as more problematic. The fact that titanium dioxide was classified was also less criticized as an individual problem by some politicians. Instead, the advice given to decision-makers could be improved. For example, greater socio-economic arguments had not played a sufficient role.

Apart from political and regulatory issues, however, the classic technical issues surrounding innovations predominated. For example, Andy White from FP-Pigments described how important the optimum distance between the titanium dioxide pigments is in order to achieve optimum light scattering and thus ensure maximum hiding power of the paint.

White also presented a pigment that consists of highly pure calcium carbonate and to which several titanium dioxide pigments are firmly bonded at an optimum distance. This functional pigment is thus intended to increase the efficiency of the formulation.

Sustainability was also a major topic. Several presentations from the raw materials industry presented CO2 foot print or life cycle analyses. However, these key figures have probably not been in demand from paint and coatings manufacturers very often. There is still room for improvement here.

By Jan Gesthuizen

Book tip:

The second, completely revised edition of the text book Titanium Dioxide contains a wealth of information on the properties and use of titanium dioxide pigments. It gives the reader a comprehensive insight into how titanium dioxide works and its possible applications and much more.

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