Hello and welcome to your late week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. There's a lot going on, and we have some updates on previous stories in this issue, so let's commence.
In M&A news, RPM International announced Monday that it has acquired Viapol Ltda., a Brazilian manufacturer and marketer of building materials and construction products. Based in Cacapava, Brazil, near Sao Paulo, Viapol has annual sales of approximately $85 million. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Viapol, which was founded in 1990, will become part of The Euclid Chemical Group, a unit of RPM's Building Solutions Group that serves construction and rehabilitation markets worldwide. Viapol's products are brand leaders in the Brazilian market and include rolled asphalt roofing materials, waterproofing products, concrete admixtures, and epoxy flooring systems, structural recovery products, and retail paints, varnishes and stains. The company has more than 300 employees, about 125 independent sales representatives and two ISO 9000 certified manufacturing facilities in Brazil.
In bio-based news, China's Shengquan Group announced that when it starts producing cellulosic ethanol next month, it will be the first in the world to do so on a commercial scale. More than that, the production will also be cost-competitive with conventional ethanol, as the feedstock is a waste product from Shengquan's current production. Shengquan has invested $100 million in the new facility. Danish company Novozymes will supply the enabling enzyme technology. The two companies first announced their plans in April this year and signed the final agreement during Hu Jintao's visit to Denmark.
"When Shengquan opens its facility next month, it will be a milestone on the road away from the current oil-dependent economy toward a bioeconomy based on biological materials such as biomass and household and industrial waste," explains Steen Riisgaard, President and CEO of Novozymes.
In facilities news, Evonik Industries held the ground-breaking ceremony for the new production plants for the manufacture of isophorone and isophorone diamine in the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park (SCIP). The Group is investing more than €100 million in the plants, which are scheduled to come on stream in the first quarter of 2014, after completion of a roughly two-year construction phase.
The groundbreaking was a milestone for Evonik: "This integrated production platform shall reinforce our presence in an important market and enable us to supply the growing needs of our customers in China and the entire Asia Pacific region," emphasized Dr. Dahai Yu, member of the Executive Board of Evonik Industries, during a press conference on June 18th, 2012 in Shanghai. "This investment shall also consolidate our position as a worldwide leading manufacturer of the isophorone chemistry.
In our last issue, we reported that Berkshire Hathaway had relieved Denis Abrams of control at Benjamin Moore, 129 year old scion of New Jersey's paint industry. The story is that company hasn't been doing well since the housing market failed, except for this last quarter when Denis was able to lead his team to the first sales increase since 2007. So, he decided to celebrate by taking himself and his fellow execs on a trip to Bermuda, paid for by Benjamin Moore.
What I didn't know without spending an hour or so with annual reports is that Abrams got the boost in sales numbers not by increasing the amount of paint sold, but by raising the price. He's also kept profits from slipping by laying off people and freezing pay for workers. So, you can kind of see how the trip, which included an island dinner cruise aboard a yacht, was a pretty bad move. Based on that, BH's capo, Warren Buffet was not impressed. (And rightly so, I suppose.)
Supposedly, Warren has "bad cops" who specialize in firing execs -- and, that's who showed up at the New Jersey headquarters of Benjamin Moore and told Abrams to pack his stuff. According to people who were there, the fired CEO kept asking what had done wrong as they were escorting him out of the building.
We gave a sketch of this story about 8 months ago, but more has been accomplished, and it deserves an update. Arrangements are being made by the Abu Dhabi Police for setting up database of car paints for analyzing the chemical composition of various vehicle paints as evidence. It makes you sort of wonder how much auto-related crime you must have to make this worthwhile.
Major Mohammed Saeed Al Jabri, Director of Chemistry at the Criminal Evidence Department, who is also Director of the car paints database project, said the project is part of the best use of criminal evidence. It is an initiative in coordination with the General Department for Strategy and Improvement of Performance. When the project, which is scheduled to be launched this year, comes into completion, the criminal evidence section at the Abu Dhabi Police will be the only entity in the Middle East which uses this method. This makes it possible to identify the car's year of manufacture from the sample of its paint in case if the vehicle is involved in any accident or crime.
Workshops were held in connection with forensic laboratories in Canada, where international criminologists delivered lectures on preparation of database and on how to use it when vehicles are involved in hit-and-run cases. Lectures also focused on how to reach conclusion by analyzing the chemical substance of the paint to determine the model and year in which the vehicle was made.
The department cooperated with international forensic laboratories in the US, Europe, Japan, Singapore and Australia to implement the best international standards and specifications, he added. The department is working with automobile agencies in the country to collect information needed for establishing the database. A number of member countries were also contacted to exchange information on car paints.
The department will soon choose the software program for the project to commence activating the link between its databases and the data at the forensic laboratory in Canada. He added that the project will enable Abu Dhabi to become an active member in the international car paints database network, he added.
On another previous story, a settlement will ensure the continued cleanup of lead-based paint that has killed thousands of Laysan albatross chicks at Midway Atoll, the Center for Biological Diversity said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entered into the settlement Monday with the nonprofit conservation organization to clean the paint from federal facilities on the atoll in the Hawaii archipelago, which is the world's key breeding site for the seabirds, considered vulnerable to extinction, the center said.
The center filed a notice of intent to sue in 2010, arguing that the poisonous paint kills up to 10,000 Laysan albatross chicks each year and also threatens the endangered Laysan duck. Last year, the U.S. government awarded a $4.7 million contract to begin removing the paint.
The threat of a lawsuit spurred the government to look at the issue and begin the cleanup last year, said Shaye Wolf, climate science director for the Tucson, Arizona-based center. The settlement requires the cleanup be completed by 2017 and allows the center or third parties potential access to test for contaminants in the Laysan duck.
"It did result in the release of funds from the Department of Interior to begin the cleanup," Barry Stieglitz, refuge supervisor for the agency's Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, said of the notice of intent to sue.
Midway Atoll was used for many decades as a U.S. military base and still has several sources of pollution. The cleanup required by the settlement applies to existing military buildings that shed the lead-based paint chips that are then eaten by albatross chicks.
"The service's agreement to finally clean up this dangerous lead-based paint is an important step toward returning this tiny island to its rightful role as a haven, not a deadly trap, for wildlife," Wolf said. "Midway Atoll provides unparalleled nesting habitat for albatross, which fly thousands of miles over the Pacific Ocean in search of food and return to the atoll to nest each year."
Since 2005, about 37 of 95 buildings have been cleaned of the paint, Stieglitz said. Work is limited to when the albatross isn't nesting or largely away from Midway - during July, August and September.
"The albatross nest is literally everywhere, except on roads and rooftops," Stieglitz said. "The construction season is fairly narrow."
Workers try to lay black mesh around buildings to discourage nesting, in an attempt to lengthen the amount of time cleanup can occur, but that doesn't always work.
The center noted that it's especially important to protect albatross chicks after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan killed about 110,000 Laysan and black-footed albatross chicks at Midway. At least 2,000 adults were also killed by tsunami waves washing over Midway's three low-lying islands.
In research news, a team of scientists and engineers led by Professor Prashant Kamat is generating energy from solar paint. Building on recent advances in semiconductor nanocrystal research, they've developed a one-coat solar paint for designing quantum dot solar cells.
Energy is created when the paste, made of semi-conducting nano-particles of titanium dioxide mixed with cadmium sulfide or cadmium selenide, is applied to a conducting glass surface and annealed at high temperature. Cadmium is a highly toxic metal historically used as a protective coating for steel and as an ingredient in creating red, orange and yellow pigments. This spreadable liquid mimics traditional paint, it's applied via brushwork or spray painting.
Named "Sun-Believable", Kamat's prototype presently operates at a power conversion efficiency exceeding 1%, compared to 10% efficiencies of traditional photovoltaic panels. Predicted conversion rates for solar paints hover at 5%, less than half the current efficiency of thin film solar panels. Low cost may counterbalance low efficiency.
"This paint can be made cheaply and in large quantities. If we can improve the efficiency, we may be able to make a real difference in meeting future energy needs", Professor Kamat said. The common compounds used to create Sun-Believable are readily available on the open market.
It's estimated that covering 400 square feet of roof with solar paint would cost $100, traditional solar panel installation for the same area could cost a hundred times more.
Elsewhere, Dr. Paul Dastoor and his team of physicists at Australia's University of Newcastle spent the past decade developing their organic solar paint. Their environmentally-friendly technology takes the form of coatings or flexible polymer sheets that generate electricity when applied to building roofs or any conductive surface. The sheets, which are "printable", contain a nano-particle fluid that is essentially water-based paint. Work is underway to develop the product so it can be directly painted onto building surfaces.
Improvements are necessary for scalable application, but initial efforts show next generation solar cells can be economically viable.
In other news on the site, the University of California San Diego, under the 2012 SunShot Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) R&D funding opportunity announcement (FOA), is developing a new low-cost and scalable process for fabricating spectrally selective coatings (SSCs) to be used in solar absorbers for high-temperature CSP systems...more
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ICA, one of the leading industrial groups in Europe specializing in the manufacture and marketing of special coatings for wood, is reinforcing its competitiveness on the global market through the establishment of the new Italian Coatings division, which is the fruit of the merger by incorporation of Salchi Wood Coatings SpA, a company that was already 100% controlled by ICA SpA...more
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Hempel has been chosen by AW Energy to supply coatings for a revolutionary wave energy pilot project taking place in Peniche, Portugal. The first 3x100 kW WaveRoller pilot power plant will be deployed in July 2012, and will immediately begin producing energy for the Portuguese national grid...more
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And finally, the innovative product Strodex™ FT428 surfactant for waterborne architectural coatings and emulsion polymerization from Ashland Specialty Ingredients, a commercial unit of Ashland Inc., has garnered the company the Ringier Technology Innovation Award for coatings. It's the second consecutive year in which Ashland has received this award...more
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