Reduce the product carbon footprint all along the supply chain
What is the current focus of R&D in raw materials for polyurethane coatings?
Eugénie Charrière: The polyurethanes industry is looking for new solutions to challenges posed by climate change, rising energy costs and new regulations. Vencorex, a global leader of aliphatic isocyanates and fully-owned subsidiary of PPT Global Chemical, is focusing its R&D programmes on sustainable solutions that meet these markets’ expectations.
As an example, Vencorex is developing low viscosity, flexible and elastic aliphatic polyisocyanates that are specifically designed for very-low- and even zero-VOC polyurea (PUA) and polyaspartic (PAS) coatings. The new “Tolonate” grades provide mechanical and weathering resistance, together with good hardness and a longer pot-life, while retaining the very rapid hardness development, even at low temperatures, that PUA and PAS are well known for.
How is the sector being affected by the growing legislation on diisocyanates?
Charrière: The new European REACH restriction on diisocyanates was published in 2020. It aims to protect workers in the EU, who will have to have successfully completed a minimum, standardised training course by 24 August, 2023. Even though some products are exempt from this obligation, it is recommended that the training be pursued in all cases, to ensure safe use and handling of diisocyanates and thus to protect the employees and sustain the polyurethanes industry.
Thanks to www.safeusediisocyanates.eu, the digital training platform developed by ALIPA/ISOPA and downstream user associations in a joint industry effort, the training is readily accessible, can be done remotely (by e-learning) and will take only 60 to 90 minutes, the exact time depending on the application. Outside Europe, the multiplication of specific REACH-like registrations, in South Korea, Turkey and UK to name the most recent ones, is generating substantial costs and mobilising sizable quantities of highly specialised resources, and this is detrimental to the introduction of new innovative products.
What technical trends will shape the sector in upcoming years?
Charrière: One of the key trends which will likely have a major impact in the near future is the urgent need to reduce the product carbon footprint all along the supply chain. Various solutions might be necessary, the number of which will depend on the end markets.
As an example, greater usage of bio-based coatings and adhesives is required in the wood industry, whereas automotive is focusing more on the development of energy-efficient formulations, and that requires lower temperatures during application in OEM lines.