HATTIESBURG, MS — The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Polymers and High-Performance Materials announced the development of a “revolutionary” paint product formulated with a castor oil-based monomer. The resulting paint is said to be “essentially odor free and pollution free” while providing strong performance properties.

The paint, developed by a research team led by USM’s Shelby Thames and supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is formulated with an “acrylated castor oil monomer” that is reported to offer a substitute for a solvent, resulting in a final paint formulation containing a VOC level as low as 3 grams per liter (g/L).

Thames, distinguished university research professor at USM who led the establishment of the annual Water-Borne, High-Solids and Powder Coatings Symposium, said the new technology offers promise for a range of industrial uses.

“The bottom line is, this technology uses castor oil, soybean oil or lesquerella oil to allow us to make latex polymers that have wide applications,” he said. “Not just paints, but inks, adhesives, carpet backings, coating for fibers, coatings for concrete steel.” Thames said the paint product developed as a result of the technology exhibits strong performance properties, including scrub resistance.

USM also announced that Jim Watts, a university graduate who has worked in the paint and coatings industry for 30 years, has joined Thames and USM researchers Oliver Smith and Jim Evans to form a production company to manufacture the paint product. Watts said he believes the product developed at USM “will be in a major portion of the latex paint produced in this country” within three years. “This is something that is going to revolutionize the coatings industry,” he said.

USM said an initial task for the developers of the technology is the production of approximately 20,000 gallons of paint to be applied to interior walls at the Pentagon over the next year. A new company formed by Watts and his partners has launched a manufacturing unit, Southern Diversified Products of Jackson, MS, to produce the paint.