The paint and coatings industry is actively pursuing new, environmentally friendly products. Reasons for this trend include new understandings of the hazards of older coatings with respect to the environment and to those who live in it (the dangers of lead coatings for example). There are significant political and marketing pressures as well, including the public’s desire for “green” products as well as the ever more stringent government standards. Finally, the costs and availability of petroleum products drive the search for less costly and more effective coatings.
The trends, broadly speaking, in coating R&D generally follow one of two tracks. The first is the pursuit of sustainability in the products themselves. This refers to the use of bio-renewable raw materials. For example, there are resins which include various organic compounds such as palm oil and tung oil modified resins. Soy alkyds are also commonly utilized in today’s green formulations.
The second track is related to the ‘carbon footprint’ of production of paints and coatings. If the production of an environmentally friendly and sustainable product requires an inordinate amount of energy and other resources, it is said to have a high carbon footprint. If the sustainability of a product is offset by its carbon footprint, then there is no environmental advantage. It would be better to produce a petroleum based product with a lower carbon footprint.
Research is taking place along these two tracks, and will continue to push the envelope forward in green painting. Care must be taken with respect to sustainability. If too many bio products are diverted to industry, the food chain will be impacted around the world. Sustainability research focuses on using varied resources such as cashew shells, algae, straw and many more. Lower carbon footprint research focuses on more efficient and effective production processes, thus lowering the need for fossil fuels, both in the production of energy as well as the use of those products directly.
Many strides have been made in the production and utilization of sustainable and lower carbon footprint coatings – commonly referred to and labeled as ‘green’ paints and coatings. Ongoing research will help produce even more environmentally friendly products in the future.
Why not consider using ‘green’ coatings on your next project?