Professor Rolf Mühlhaupt, Freiburg Materials Research Centre FMF, University of Freiburg, DE, delivered the Keynote Address at the opening session of the European Coatings Congress. “The era of plentiful resources is over,” he noted. “We have to address the issue of sustainability.” Professor Mühlhaupt discussed the dramatic growth of our world’s population, stating that in 2012 the population was 7 billion, and in 2050 it will be 9 billion. This rapid growth will put a tremendous strain on our natural resources. This means more than oil and gas – it means drinking water, fertile soil and clean air.

He noted that the need to focus on using bio resources is important, however the amount of available land is limited and is almost all being used for farming and food production. Professor Mühlhaupt discussed making polymers from carbon dioxide as a way to use bio resources without interfering with food production. Continued R&D efforts in this field will help bring costs down as the chemistry and process are improved.

Professor Mühlhaupt concluded that the coatings industry plays a large role in global sustainable development, including corrosion protection for infrastructure and off-shore facilities, anti-fouling coatings that reduce fuel consumption for ships and heat-reflective coatings that keep buildings cooler.