Coatings industry professionals from around the world convened in New Orleans Nov. 1-3 for the 2006 International Coatings Expo (ICE), hosted by the Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology (FSCT). While the turnout was lighter than all had hoped for, both exhibitors and attendees were happy to support the FSCT in helping to rebuild a city that was devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005. FSCT officials said that ICE 2006 did better than expected, drawing 300 exhibitors and 4,615 registrants, representing 52 countries.

Coatings industry professionals from around the world convened in New Orleans Nov. 1-3 for the 2006 International Coatings Expo (ICE), hosted by the Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology (FSCT). While the turnout was lighter than all had hoped for, both exhibitors and attendees were happy to support the FSCT in helping to rebuild a city that was devastated by hurricane Katrina in 2005. FSCT officials said that ICE 2006 did better than expected, drawing 300 exhibitors and 4,615 registrants, representing 52 countries. FSCT Executive Director, Bob Ziegler, said, “We want to express our deepest thanks to all of the suppliers and attendees that participated in ICE 2006. Despite the challenges, I believe the overall feeling of many has been a positive one.”

The focus this year was “green” technology. While this was an important theme on the show floor, product performance and raw material costs were two other key buzzwords at ICE.

Going Green

Environmental regulations continue to drive companies to improve current products, or to create newer, greener chemistries. International Specialty Products (ISP) focused on this theme. According to Ray Fahmy, Manager, North America Marketing, Biocides, “At this point, there are no government regulations or standards specifying what “green” means. However, there are agencies that will qualify a product such as a paint by what it doesn’t do - for example, releasing toxic gases into the atmosphere, contributing to odor, emitting formaldehyde.”

Because ISP’s biocides are raw materials and not a finished coating, they are not yet subject to agency qualification. Fahmy notes, “We appreciate that while paint has many components, incorporating biocides with greener profiles would give a paint manufacturer less to be concerned about when it comes time to qualify its products.”

ISP’s response to this need is a product and technology development program called CLEANGUARD™, whose purpose is to bring to market a new family of biocides specially formulated to contribute to a cleaner, greener environment. The company’s scientists have set about formulating “green” protective ingredients by taking potentially hazardous elements out of the mix, while working with active ingredients that are well accepted in the industry. Two CLEANGUARD products formally introduced at ICE were FUNGITROL® 920 fungicide and NUOSEPT® in-can preservative.

FUNGITROL 920 fungicide is a water-based, formaldehyde-free dispersion of 3-iodo-2-propynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC). It is used primarily as a dry-film anti-mildew protector for waterborne paints, coatings and stains, as well as adhesives and printing inks. “In IPBC, we have taken a widely accepted active ingredient and have formulated it in a way that takes out the solvents and other less-friendly components,” Fahmy observes.

Another environmentally aware company is KW Container, a division of KW Plastics. In fact, KW Container has been 100% focused on “green” from its inception 25 years ago. The company manufactures one-gallon, quart, pint and half-pint containers from 100% recycled (and 100% recyclable) material, a post-consumer polypropylene resin. They buy back the containers after use, recycle and re-use them. It is a continuous closed-loop system. KW’s proprietary technology consistently produces high-quality product that is normally not associated with recycled resin. In fact, the company’s material can be used in non-food grade applications at 100% ratios. KW’s product is also attractive from a cost and convenience standpoint. The recycling program eliminates the need for companies to dispose of their containers, since KW buys them back.

Cognis also feels the push toward greener chemistry and sustainability. Francois Gallouédec, Business Manager Coatings, Resins & Additives of Cognis NAFTA, commented that the company looks at four levels of environmental awareness with its products: the product itself; which raw materials were used in manufacturing the product; what happens once the product has served its purpose and is at the end of its useful life; and how much energy was expanded in order to manufacture the product. The best case scenario would therefore be a product that:

1. Is environmentally friendly, i.e. a product with low to zero toxicity and contains low to zero VOCs;

2. Is manufactured from renewable resources (as close to 100% as possible), by a process that is environmentally safe and generates minimal waste;

3. Is biodegrade once its useful life is over, and whose decomposition by-products are not toxic; and

4. Requires the minimum amount of energy for the chemical process by which it is created.

For a number of key “green” products designed to replace older materials manufactured by Cognis or other chemical competitors, the company has done a “life cycle analysis” of the products so that it can highlight the materials whose chemical process require less energy expenditure than the older, non-green products.

A Balance of Compliance and Performance

At the same time, Cognis recognizes that manufacturers don’t want to compromise on performance. The company’s Polymers, Coatings & Inks business unit showcased several of its environmentally responsible, high-performance solutions in the field of consumer and industrial coatings, including the VOC-free rheology modifiers DSX® 3020 and 3515, the Versamine S range of curing agents, and FoamStar A-45 defoamer.

Celanese also recognizes the balancing act between compliance and performance. According to Chris Baile, Regional Sales Manager for Celanese, the greatest challenge and opportunity in the coatings industry today centers on the formulation of low-VOC products that deliver top quality and performance. “For years the industry has faced increasingly stringent VOC regulations,” Baile said. “Today, consumers are driving the trend toward more environmentally friendly and low-odor paints for their homes, but they are not willing to give up the premium quality attributes such as long-lasting durability and scrub resistance,” he added.

Celanese introduced a vinyl acetate/ethylene emulsion called Celvolit® 1774 that enables paint formulators to manufacture coatings without the use of co-solvents or coalescing agents, which increase the VOC and odor in the finished paint. Besides good scrub and stain resistance, paints formulated with Celvolit 1774 are said to offer excellent touch up and low temperature applications. APEO-free, this emulsion is a great start to environmentally friendly formulas.

Driven by performance, The Dow Chemical Company showcased its newest solvent, UNOXOL™ Diol. This new cycloaliphatic diol is an approximate 1:1 mixture of (cis, trans) 1,3-cyclohexanedimethanol and (cis, trans ) 1,4-cyclohexanedimethanol. Because of its unique structure and composition, UNOXOL Diol is a liquid at room temperature. It contains two primary hydroxyl groups that reportedly lead to excellent reactivity during the preparation of condensation polymers and curing of the polymers with typical melamine and polyisocyanate crosslinkers. Thermoset coatings prepared from these condensation polymers have a balance of hardness and flexibility compared with traditional coatings. The company reports that as a result of its cycloaliphatic structure, the product also imparts excellent acid etch resistance and hydrolytic stability. The new diol affords all the benefits of the cycloaliphatic backbone structure, while removing the limitations to incorporation, solubility storage and usage observed when using the 1,4 isomer alone.

Cost Also a Factor

With raw material prices continuing to rise, keeping costs down has been a big challenge for suppliers. The Shepherd Color Company introduced a line of stir-in inorganic color pigments that reportedly offer tremendous cost savings. This new dry dispersion technology eliminates traditional milling, saving up to 75% in pigment dispersion cycle time and energy savings up to 90%. It also reduces cleaning and waste disposal costs. The Dynamix™ pigment line also offers chemists, formulators and colorists the potential to be creative in their approach to coatings development. Color can be added at any stage - the color and tint strength properties are “locked in” and can be achieved consistently. And there are no dispersants or additional resins to formulate around.

Mark Bassett, Senior Business Commercial Leader, Coating, Cleaning and Ink Solvents for Dow Oxygenated Solvents, commented on the cost issue. “The issue is still around raw material pricing - how stable or unstable it is. Our costs change on a monthly basis, and margins are thin.” Bassett added that the situation is complicated since the suppliers’ costs change monthly, but that paint companies often have prices set for longer terms with their customers. Bob Cook, a marketing and communications specialist who represents Dow, added that companies can’t innovate if they can’t make money. In order to serve their customers’ needs, suppliers need to raise prices in order to have the money to invest in R&D and improve their products.

Other Featured Products

Many other companies featured products at ICE, some of which are included in the review that follows.

Air Productsintroduced Carbowet® 106 and 109 surfactants for waterborne architectural and industrial coatings. Carbowet surfactants are targeting wetting agents that contain alkylphenol ethoxylates (APE) or nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE), which are persistent in the environment and suspected of being endocrine disrupters. In fact, Carbowet surfactants contain no phenolic compounds.

“Carbowet 106 and 109 surfactants are simple drop-in replacements for APEs and NPEs,” says Laurie Marshall, Marketing Manager for Coatings and Adhesives. “Carbowet 106 and 109 surfactants offer excellent surface tension reduction, while also being cost effective and biodegradable.”

Air Products also introduced Airflex EF833 emulsion, a vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE) copolymer for architectural coatings from flat through gloss applications, which possesses the ability to be formulated at VOCs <50 g/L. Airflex EF833 emulsion was developed as a higher-performance, cost-competitive replacement for vinyl acrylic/acrylic blends, vinyl acrylics with wet adhesion and pure acrylics.

“As the restrictions on the permissible level of VOCs in coatings continue to increase, it is growing more important that the polymers used in formulations can be used at lower solvent levels without sacrificing performance,” said Diane Terry, Coatings Market Manager for Air Products Polymers. “Airflex EF833 only requires a minimal amount of coalescing solvent, which allows formulators to develop coatings with significantly lower levels of VOCs.”

ANGUS Chemical Company, a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, continues to focus its efforts on its AMP technology. AMP-95™ dispersant (2-amino-2-methyl-1-propanol) is a multifunctional additive that can bring a variety of performance-enhancing benefits, including co-dispersion, enhanced film performance and reduced in-can corrosion. Liam Doherty, Global Marketing Manager, ANGUS Chemical and Dow Biocides, commented on the product’s popularity. Because the product reduces the required levels of other components in the formulation, it offers both environmental and financial benefits. Doherty said that they have seen significant demand for the AMP technology, and ANGUS has made significant investments in it. The company completed a multi-million dollar capacity expansion project for AMP-95 at its Sterlington, La., production facility in 2005, and has most recently started manufacturing in Ibbenburen, Germany, to offer strategic supply options to customers around the world.

Brookfield Engineeringfeatured its line of texture analyzers, viscometers and rheometers, including an enhanced version of its LFRA Texture Analyzer. The unit provides increased test method choices, greater resolution and improved accuracy. Also featured was the company’s most popular instrument, the DV-II+ Viscometer, with added computer control capability utilizing the company’s Rheocalc software. The software allows for advanced data collection and analysis methods with instrument functions controlled through a computer.

Burgess Pigmentfocused on its Optiwhite Series of thermo-optic silicates. Not only is the product capable of allowing substantial TiO2 reductions, but it contributes to sheen uniformity as well as being an efficient flatting agent. Typical results, especially when utilizing new formulation techniques, include equal or better hiding at up to 25% improved film strength in latex flats, with savings often exceeding $.25/gal.

Clariant’s Pigments & Additives Divisionfeatured its expanded colorant and additives range for a safer environment. Colanyl® 500 pigment preparations are free of binding agents and solvents and high in pigment content. The Colanyl 500 series are very low-VOC and APEO-free aqueous pigments dispersions.

Clariant also featured a line of non-halogenated flame retardants under the trade name Exolit®. These products are based on ammonium polyphosphate compounds, which are excellent alternatives to conventional flame retardants. The benefits of these flame retardants are low smoke density and no corrosive gas formation when exposed to fire.

Environmental awareness has led to the increased use of powder coatings where micronized waxes based on polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) are often used. Clariant’s TP Ceridust® 3921 F is a micronized PTFE wax mixture based on an innovative polyolefin.

Dow Corningintroduced Dow Corning® IE-6694 water-repellent emulsion, a penetrating, low-VOC product that meets the stringent California SCAQMD requirements. “This product maximizes building life, reduces maintenance and improves aesthetics for porous construction materials such as concrete, stone, brick and grout while reducing hazardous VOCs,” said Jennifer Middleton, Dow Corning Building Materials Protection Marketing Manager. “By removing silicon hydride from the formulation, this product eliminates the need for vented containers and mitigates shipping, storage and handling problems associated with volatile content.”

King Industriesfeatured many products, including K-SPERSE 5100 solvent-free dispersing/wetting agent for solventborne and solvent-free systems. It is particularly effective in 100% solids epoxy systems. This low-molecular-weight polymer contains hydroxyl and carboxyl functionality and is recommended for both organic and inorganic pigments/fillers. King also showcased its DISPARLON AQ-600 Series of liquid anti-settling and pigment orientation agents for use in waterborne coatings, inks, varnishes and stains.

Michelmancontinues to help coatings manufacturers meet evolving regulatory requirements with its low-VOC emulsions. The company featured its Michem® line of emulsions, which can help achieve the necessary VOC reductions that formulators are looking for.

New fromNoveon, Inc. , is Turboset 2025 urethane dispersion, which is transforming the way formulators and contractors use wood coatings by eliminating additional crosslinkers. This one-component product employs the company’s proprietary self-crosslinking technology that deliver the performance of a two-component system without any external crosslinkers. The nano-sized polymer particles in this product crosslink after application and continue while drying. It is also low in VOC, and with no additives to mix, it makes coating application easier and faster.

Q-Lab Corporation, formerly Q-Panel Lab Products, exhibited its weathering, light stability and corrosion test equipment and services. This year’s ICE show was particularly special to Q-Lab because the company celebrated two milestone events. 2006 is Q-Lab’s 50th corporate anniversary and was also the company’s 50th year participating at the ICE show. The QUV Accelerated Weathering Tester, Q-Sun Xenon Test Chamber, Q-Lab Weathering Research Service and Q-Fog Cyclic Corrosion Testers help in the selection of new materials, the improvement of existing materials or the evaluation of formulation changes.

Troy Corporationhighlighted its line of products and solutions designed to help coatings producers make products that meet or exceed stringent global safety and environmental standards. Featured were the zero-VOC dry film preservatives Polyphase® 663 and 678, and the in-can preservatives Mergal® K10N and 399. Also generating considerable interest was the new zero-VOC wetting agent Troysol™ ZLAC. In addition, Troy presented starting formulations to demonstrate that these products allowed coatings manufactures to formulate “green”, high-quality, aqueous coatings with low or no VOCs that exhibit better performance than traditional products.