Interview: “Not a matter of ‘if’, but only of ‘when’”

Andre van Linden, R&D director Scientific Academic Partnerships at Akzo Nobel, expands on how additives can have a great impact on the sustainability of a coating and the shift to sustainable additives.

Andre van Linden
We spoke to Andre van Linden about trends and challenges in water-borne coatings.

How can additives help make paints and coatings more sustainable?

Andre van Linden: Additives in paints and coatings are used for a variety of reasons. In many cases, they improve the sustainability of the coating. Some examples are additives, such as TiO2 spacers (to make lower TiO2 levels possible), UV absorbers and rust inhibitors. Additives that improve scuff resistance help enhance the lifetime of coatings and therefore reduce the environmental impact of coatings regardless of the coating technology.

For low VOC, water-borne coatings, the product quality often critically depends on the additive package, so additives can be seen as enablers for more sustainable coatings. Rheology modifiers, defoamers, substrate wetting agents, leveling aids, pigment dispersants and latex dispersants all have to work together to make an excellent product. For instance, water-borne corrosion protection paints need to avoid flash rust – create the proper adhesion and protect against rust formation, but also have a proper flow, no pinholes and a decent gloss level, among other considerations.

In which application fields have sustainable coatings additives already made inroads, where do you still see challenges?

van Linden: New additives themselves can also be sustainable. For instance, there are many surfactants derived from vegetable oils, animal fats or sugars, ideally not in competition with the food chain. Many bio-derived materials have hydroxyl or carboxyl functionalities which make further chemical modification possible.

In many cases, these surfactants can replace fossil oil-derived counterparts. In other cases, we expect new developments to close the performance gap. In corrosion protection, the first steps have been taken towards more sustainable additives. In other areas, such as high-performance rheology modifiers, UV absorbers and waxes, there is still much to win in terms of sustainability. Bio-based additives are available, but only for a limited number of products – think of cellulose-based thickeners where the use is limited mainly to wall paints. Once these new high-performance solutions are proven to work and have been upscaled so prices can become more competitive, it can be expected that a large portion of the market will shift to these sustainable solutions. The shift is not a matter of “if”, but only of “when”.

Andre van Linden will give a presentation titled “Next level innovation routes for waterborne coatings” at the European Coatings Conference Bio-based & Water-based Coatings 2022. The event on November 22 and 23 combines the two hottest topics of the industry in one conference.

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