Hello and welcome to your early week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. ACS 2012 is history, and it appears to have been another success, so there's not a lot of news, but renewable chemicals and biorefining are once again causing a radar blip in the industry.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Virent, Inc. to observe how the company's technology to manufacture biobased products from plant materials can create sustainable products and produce jobs in rural America. Vilsack met with company employees and toured Virent's demonstration facility to learn more about Virent's patented BioForming process to convert a variety of agricultural products - including sugar, wood, and agricultural waste - into bio-based products.
Virent is working toward deploying a first commercial scale plant to produce chemicals and fuels from renewable biomass that will support rural economic development, create new jobs, and provide markets for farm commodities. "Biorefineries have the potential to transform the economic landscape of rural America - from corn stover in Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan, to miscanthus in Georgia, to woody biomass in places as diverse as Oregon and Louisiana," said Lee Edwards, Virent President and CEO.
In related news, BioTork and The National Corn-to-Ethanol-Research Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville announced the successful completion of the first step in a joint development program intended to improve the processes and economics of ethanol production. During the first step of the program, BioTork used proprietary technology developed by Evolugate to facilitate, via adaptive evolution, growth optimization of yeast genetically engineered by the USDA. The result is a strain of yeast that can grow on xylose as the sole source of carbon with about3 fold faster growth rate.
"This project is crucial for corn farmers, ethanol producers and for gas prices at the pump," says Sabrina Trupia, Director of Biological Research at NCERC. Dr. Trupia added: "During the last decade, the ethanol industry has been focusing on the use of ligno-cellulosic biomass as low cost and abundant feedstock. Different agricultural residues have been considered such as corn fiber, corn stover, straw and bagasse but the stumbling block to commercial success has been the inability of most yeast strains to ferment the complex sugars in the ligno-cellulosic biomass."
In other research news, scientists have reported the development and successful testing of a fabric coating that would give new meaning to the phrase "stain-resistant" - a coating that would take an active role in sloughing off grease, dirt, strong acids and other gunk. The report, which shows that the coating is even more water-repellent than car wax or Teflon, appears in ACS' journal Langmuir.
Tong Lin and colleagues explain that a method called "layer-by-layer" (LbL) self-assembly produces films and coatings for sensors, drug-delivery devices and many other products. LbL involves setting down alternate layers of positively and negatively charged materials that are held together by electric charges. With this approach, coatings can be custom-designed for specific applications by selecting the composition of each layer. The downside: These multilayer films are not very stable and eventually come apart. Lin and colleagues wanted to develop a way to stabilize those layers with UV light to form a "superhydrophobic" coating, one that uses natural surface forces to highly repel water and other materials.
In deal news for the end of the week, Cytec Industries Inc. announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to sell its Pressure Sensitive Adhesives product line to Henkel for total consideration of $105 million in cash, including working capital of approximately $15 million. Full year 2011 sales for the PSA product line were $94 million.
Shane Fleming, Chairman, President and CEO commented, "This transaction is another important step in our portfolio transformation as we seek to drive a greater amount of organic and inorganic growth from our specialty growth platforms. We continue to make meaningful progress with our ongoing evaluation of the remaining Coating Resins business and are on track to announce our decision this quarter."
The technologies included in the PSA sale are GELVAR GME and UCECRYLR emulsion-based pressure sensitive adhesives, GELVAR GMS and SOLUCRYLR solvent-based PSA's, and GELVAR GMR UV-curable PSA's. These specialty products are used in a variety of industrial and consumer markets including labels, tapes, graphics, and transdermal medical applications.
Approximately 80 PSA employees will transfer to Henkel upon the closing of the transaction. The transaction is expected to be essentially business-neutral to Cytec's as-adjusted continuing earnings per diluted share in 2012. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012 and is subject to customary closing conditions.
Global warming is a strange subject - a few scientists still don't even think it exists, and nobody can agree on what to do about it if it does. Last week, a new geoenginnering idea for a solution to climate change gained exposure in the media, and it once-again involves paint. An alternative solution to climate change could be to distribute fine paint particles in the upper atmosphere, says a UK chemical engineer. Scattering benign particles of sub-micron titanium dioxide into the stratosphere could turn away the rays of the sun, says Peter Davidson.
The former government senior innovation advisor, chartered chemical engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and Royal Academy of Engineering says, "While it's essential that we work to reduce carbon dioxide emissions now, it would be wise to have a well-researched emergency system in reserve as a Plan B."
The geoengineering concept, which has been developed in Britain and first published in The Chemical Engineer, should be used as an option to tackle global warming if other solutions are not effective in reducing carbon emissions.
The concept of employing titanium dioxide, which is also used in sunscreens and inks, is similar to the way volcanic eruptions cool the earth.
In 1991, temperatures around the world fell 0.5 degrees Celsius following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which launched 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. This caused fine sulfuric acid particles to quickly cover the earth.
As fine volcanic particles resemble solar wavelengths, they dispersed around 1% of light back into space, reducing temperatures.
To recreate the conditions using sulfuric acid would deplete the ozone layer and produce changes in the regional patterns of rainfall.
But using a harmless particle of a similar size is used, such as Titanium Dioxide, could be the answer, says Davidson.
Titanium Dioxide is not only stable in air and is not toxic, but it is seven times better at dispersing light than sulfuric acid. It is commonly found in the planet's crust and five million tons is already produced each year for use in paints, inks and other applications.
The next problem is to come up with a cost-effective way of transporting millions of tons of particles around 65,000 feet (20km) into the air, preventing them from being quickly washed away and keeping them there for a few years.
He suggests five massive tethered balloons, kept afloat by high-pressure pumps, which could cost around $800 million a year - 30 times cheaper than other options such as jets - could transport 1.5 million tons of titanium dioxide particles into the atmosphere.
Other suggestions for transporting the particles, such as giant space mirrors and towers 65,000 ft high, would be much higher and may not be developed this century, he believes.
Davidson says an independent trust should be formed to spearhead the project and draw together governments, environmental bodies, legal representatives and other key influencers.
If temperatures caused by climate change are to be sufficiently reduced then more than a million tons of titanium dioxide may need to be scattered each year for up to 150 years. The cost of supplying the particles could be around $10 billion a year AND -- just where the hell do these guys think it will come from? TiO2 is already in short supply at full production.
One unwelcome side effect might be the acidification of the oceans, but the effects on sea levels from melting glaciers caused by global warming would be worse.
Davidson says it is crucial to come up with other plans to combat climate change and that more investigation research and debate is required about the titanium oxide option.
The 'Plan B' for finding a way out of the global warming fix - geoengineering - has been in the news a lot lately. A couple of weeks ago there was a meeting of the 'great and good' in the UK, at the Chicheley Hall conference. That meeting saw scientists, lawyers and policy experts from across the globe, invited to thrash out the complex issues surrounding geoengineering. And in Vienna, the European Geophysical Union has just had a week-long conference on the same topic.
But are the ideas that these scientists are discussing able to move beyond the floating of wild SWAGS? And given that we are planted firmly in the global warming fire, right now, is geoengineering a carefully aimed bucket of cold water - or a short constitutional to feed and pet Cerberus?
The pumping of billions of tons of greenhouse gases, from our tailpipes and smokestacks is - in effect - a giant experiment in climate change. I'd think that alone should give some pause for thought about the wisdom of heading down the path of "counter-balancing" geoengineering projects.
Whatever happened to Plan A? The plan to eliminate the supply-side of the pollution. Why are we controlling VOC's? Why do we have catalytic converters on our French fryers? Some scientists see no improvement since e initiated controls, but are they looking at the situation in the proper (geological) time frame? If the effects of global warming are already upon us, and likely to magnify over the coming decades, it would probably be short-sighted to not at least discuss the ideas behind Plan B.
The ideas generally focus on two main approaches to counteracting a warming planet. The first is to try and create reflective clouds, using seawater - sucked and sprayed out into the atmosphere. The salt in the sea-water drops helps to seed the water vapor and clouds - and also reflects incoming sunlight. The other idea on the table is 'global dimming'; an artificial recreation of the cooling that comes from volcanic eruptions.
These shoot vast plumes of sulfur aerosols high into the atmosphere, and major volcanic eruptions are often blamed for years where global temperatures fall. The idea would be to mimic this natural mechanism, effectively reintroducing pollution of the upper atmosphere. Both of these ideas have specific worries attached to them.
Seawater clouds could easily produce more warming, not less, if the vapor drops were the wrong size. And the high-level sulfur from global dimming attempts may attack the protective ozone layer, or alter rainfall patterns, threatening India's monsoons.
The truth is that by relying on a balancing act to hold back the warming floodgates, we are setting ourselves up for a very, very long game. Warming from CO2 will persist for centuries after all CO2 emissions stop - it will take a long time for the planets temperature to stabilize after the kick that accumulated CO2 has already given it. That means we would need to carry on pumping sulfur aerosols, or seawater clouds, for centuries too.
Oh, woe is me. We didn't get into this situation overnight, and it wasn't all the fault of human environmental arrogance. I'm thinking that we need to get these "Plan B'ers" working on Plan A and wait to see what happens. The earth has remarkable self-healing properties, we need to be smart enough to resist offering a cure and help it heal itself.
In other more pleasant news, Nanotrons Corporation offered an automated coating system for material researchers to develop and produce nano-enabled optical coatings using layer-by-layer (LbL) self-assembly. Multilayer, ultrathin films can be designed and assembled at molecular dimensions with precise control of thickness and composition. The Spray Assisted Layer-by-layer Assembly System (SPALAS) provides drastically shorter processing times compared to alternative methods and equipment.
SPALAS LbL assembly offers simplicity and universality for arranging molecules and nanoparticles only 1-10 nm in size in layers to form a thin film coating for an ever increasing number of technological applications. It is an eco-friendly automated process performed in a laboratory or production environment without the need for temperature or pressure control.
The SPALAS coating system uses a wet chemistry LbL adsorption process, based on chemical or electrostatic interactions between the material building blocks. SPALAS allows the application for even optical grade coatings on various substrate materials, including semiconductor substrates, plastics and glass. SPALAS coating technology has a broad range of applications, including solar panel light absorption enhancement, anti-reflection coating of optical surfaces, IR optical coatings, anti-fog coatings, and other nanostructured multi-functional coatings.
SPALAS provides a robust self-assembly process that produces high performance thin films with many advantages over traditional vacuum or sol-gel based coatings, including unparallel low acquisition and material costs, compact footprint, ease of use, and uniformity and scalability for very large substrates. The basic unit provides programmable spraying control easily generates self-assembled coatings on substrates up to 6" x 10" in size including complex surfaces such as tubes and fibers. SPALAS allows for alternating application of positively and negatively charged functional groups in solution, with intermediate washing and drying steps, as well as simultaneous application of multiple solutions. The compact system readily fits on a bench top.
In other news, Clariant exhibited a range of high-end products from its various Business Units that provide innovative solutions to U.S. customers. These solutions include Easily Dispersible (ED) pigments and new Hostatint® TS tinter colorants; Ceridust® and Licocene® waxes; Hostavin® dispersion light stabilizer and its new Dispersogen® multifunctional agent for universal pigment dispersion...
about this news
AkzoNobel Powder Coatings became the first coatings supplier to be awarded class 2 Qualicoat certification in India. The certification was awarded to Interpon D2525, a super durable architectural powder coating, and is the first approval in the higher durability category in India. Qualicoat is a well-respected external quality standard that ensures products meet clearly defined quality and performance criteria...
about this news
Troy Corporation exhibited at the American Coatings Show ACS 2012 in Indianapolis, IN from May 7-10th and promoted The Key to Innovation, Performance, & Value. Troy's exhibit, through performance data and extensive product details, highlighted how Troy can help customers reach performance and cost targets through advanced, high-performance products with exceptional technical service...
about this news
And finally, LANXESS' participation in this year's American Coatings Show, Indiana, United States, highlighted the importance that the U.S. market holds for the specialty chemicals company. LANXESS has been steadily expanding its presence in the United States with a view to the future, and specifically in the area of material protection. Recently at the end of 2011, the company acquired biocide producer Verichem...
about this news