PHILADELPHIA — The Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Michigan, and Koehler Paper Group, Oberkirch, Germany, have been named winners of a 2017 U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Award for the development of ROPAQUE™ NT-2900 Opaque Polymer for BLUE 4EST™ Thermal Paper. This innovation is a first of its kind, offering a sustainable thermal paper option free of chemical developers.

Thermal paper is used broadly throughout the world for cash register receipts, tickets, tags and labels. Current thermal papers use chemical developers such as bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S, materials of growing regulatory and consumer scrutiny around the globe, in their coatings to produce images when heated.

“We are thrilled to be partnered with Koehler to pave the way for this breakthrough technology,” said Bob Gargione, Global Business Director for Dow Functional Coatings. “Our broad portfolio and investments into sustainable coating technologies for thermal, board and other paper applications demonstrate our ongoing commitment to deliver innovative solutions, and this award is a great recognition of these efforts.”

ROPAQUE™ Technology from Dow Coating Materials was introduced in the 1980s as the world’s first hollow sphere pigment technology, designed initially for use in architectural paints as a partial replacement for titanium dioxide, a trusted but often expensive light-scattering pigment. Opportunities to leverage the technology outside of traditional house paint applications expanded into the paper industry for use as a glossing agent, and now the technology has found a renewed value in thermal paper coatings.

“Collaborating to combine the time-tested performance of ROPAQUE Hollow Sphere Pigment Technology from Dow with our formulation expertise for thermal applications, we knew at the onset of this project many years ago that we would find both an innovative and sustainable solution,” said Dr. Stefan Karrer, COO Koehler Paper Group.

Thermal printing continues to be a highly competitive technology in a market with notable growth potential. Koehler has spent the last 210 years improving paper performance – and is one of the world’s largest suppliers of thermal paper. This latest innovation developed in collaboration with Dow is slated to be available for broad commercial purchase later this year.

Instead of relying on chemical developers to create an image, this new technology relies solely on air voids in the paper coating to develop an image and moreover, is comprised only of materials that are approved for food contact applications. The resulting thermal paper can be used with all existing thermal printers, and unlike conventional thermal paper options, offers permanent and fade-resistant images.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention sponsors the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards in partnership with the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute and other members of the chemical community. The EPA grants the award each year to organizations that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture and use.