Hello and welcome to your early week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. It has been a busy weekend, with considerable business and research news, so let's get started.
Akzo announced last week that a new manufacturing facility will become the heart of AkzoNobel's UK Decorative Paints operations, and will triple the North-East manufacturing capability of the UK's decorative paints business. The new site, due to commence operations in late 2014, will halve AkzoNobel's environmental impact in the North-East, reducing energy consumption per liter of paint produced by 60% compared to today's operations. This will be achieved using a biomass boiler to provide a renewable source of heat, solar panels on the roof providing a renewable source of electricity and rainwater harvesting to bolster process water.
At the end of 2014, AkzoNobel plans to close its current site in nearby Prudhoe and its manufacturing operations in Slough. Slough will remain the headquarters for the UK Decorative Paints business for marketing and global research and development. The Company is committed to ensuring appropriate support and development is in place for those employees at the current decorative paints factories who wish to move to the new site.
In awards news, "SLIPS" technology, developed at Harvard University, provides a surface modeled on the pitcher plant and has transformative potential for everyday life. The coating that repels almost every type of liquid and solid, from blood and crude oil to ice and bacteria, has received a 2012 R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine. The annual awards honor the 100 most technologically significant products of the previous year.
The winning technology, called SLIPS (Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces), was developed by a team of scientists led by Joanna Aizenberg, Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). "Some of the most extreme examples in biology can provide the most amazing and unexpected ideas, and what's so significant about the pitcher plant is that it gives us a blueprint for a single surface that is capable of repelling any type of accumulated unwanted material," said Aizenberg.
In business news, Berry Plastics announced that it has completed the acquisition of the shares of Frans Nooren Beheer B.V. The purchase comprises the Frans Nooren Beheer Companies, notably STOPAQ B.V. and its operating companies. STOPAQ is the inventor and manufacturer of patented visco-elastic technologies for use in corrosion prevention, sealing and insulation applications ranging from pipelines to subsea piles to rail and cable joints. Headquartered in Stadskanaal, The Netherlands, STOPAQ operates a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, complete with R&D facilities, an anti-corrosion Technology Park, and Centre of Excellence training and exhibition facilities.
Berry Plastics Corporation is headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, USA and is a manufacturer and marketer of plastic packaging products. The company is a producer of a wide range of products, including open top and closed top packaging, polyethylene-based plastic films, industrial tapes, medical specialties, flexible packaging, heat-shrinkable coatings, specialty laminates, and FIBCs.
Last week, Valspar announced that it plans to shutter their Grand Prairie, Texas, USA facility August 15 and lay off 58 people. No other Valspar plants are slated for closure, the spokesman's email said.
The plant, which produces industrial coatings used in the marine, transportation, energy and construction industries, is closing as part of a consolidation of Valspar manufacturing locations, according to a company spokesman's email.
I'm guessing that their nearby Garland facility will be taking up most of the slack.
In research news, a new type of paint made with carbon nanotubes designed at Rice University can help detect strain in buildings, bridges and airplanes. The Rice scientists call their mixture "strain paint" and are hopeful it can help detect deformations in structures like airplane wings. Their study, published online this month by the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters ("Strain Paint: Noncontact Strain Measurement Using Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Composite Coatings") details a composite coating they invented that could be read by a handheld infrared spectrometer.
This method could tell where a material is showing signs of deformation well before the effects become visible to the naked eye, and without touching the structure. The researchers said this provides a big advantage over conventional strain gauges, which must be physically connected to their read-out devices. In addition, the nanotube-based system could measure strain at any location and along any direction. Rice chemistry professor Bruce Weisman led the discovery and interpretation of near-infrared fluorescence from semiconducting carbon nanotubes in 2002, and he has since developed and used novel optical instrumentation to explore nanotubes' physical and chemical properties.
Satish Nagarajaiah, a Rice professor of civil and environmental engineering and of mechanical engineering and materials science, and his collaborators led the 2004 development of strain sensing for structural integrity monitoring at the macro level using the electrical properties of carbon nanofilms - dense networks/ensembles of nanotubes. Since then he has continued to investigate novel strain sensing methods using various nanomaterials.
But it was a stroke of luck that Weisman and Nagarajaiah attended the same NASA workshop in 2010. There, Weisman gave a talk on nanotube fluorescence. He included an illustration of a hypothetical system that would use lasers to reveal strains in the nano-coated wing of a space shuttle. "I went up to him afterward and said, 'Bruce, do you know we can actually try to see if this works?'" recalled Nagarajaiah.
Nanotube fluorescence shows large, predictable wavelength shifts when the tubes are deformed by tension or compression. The paint - and therefore each nanotube, about 50,000 times thinner than a human hair - would suffer the same strain as the surface it's painted on and give a clear picture of what's happening underneath.
"For an airplane, technicians typically apply conventional strain gauges at specific locations on the wing and subject it to force vibration testing to see how it behaves," Nagarajaiah said. "They can only do this on the ground and can only measure part of a wing in specific directions and locations where the strain gauges are wired. But with our non-contact technique, they could aim the laser at any point on the wing and get a strain map along any direction." He said strain paint could be designed with multifunctional properties for specific applications.
"It can also have other benefits," Nagarajaiah said. "It can be a protective film that impedes corrosion or could enhance the strength of the underlying material." Weisman said the project will require further development of the coating before such a product can go to market. "We'll need to optimize details of its composition and preparation, and find the best way to apply it to the surfaces that will be monitored," he said.
"These fabrication/engineering issues should be addressed to ensure proper performance, even before we start working on portable read-out instruments." "There are also subtleties about how interactions among the nanotubes, the polymeric host and the substrate affect the reproducibility and long-term stability of the spectral shifts. For real-world measurements, these are important considerations," Weisman said.
But none of those problems seem insurmountable, he said, and construction of a handheld optical strain reader should be relatively straightforward. "There are already quite compact infrared spectrometers that could be battery-operated," Weisman said. "Miniature lasers and optics are also readily available. So it wouldn't require the invention of new technologies, just combining components that already exist. "I'm confident that if there were a market, the readout equipment could be miniaturized and packaged. It's not science fiction." Lead author of the paper is Paul Withey, an associate professor of physics at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, who spent a sabbatical in Weisman's lab at Rice studying the fluorescence of nanotubes in polymers. Co-authors are Rice civil engineering graduate student Venkata Srivishnu Vemuru in Nagarajaiah's group and Sergei Bachilo, a research scientist in Weisman's group.
In the UK, a £1.2 million investment in a new logistics center by an historic Hull paint manufacturer has created 70 new jobs. Crown Paints was founded in the city in 1811 and now employs about 180 people at its factory in Sculcoates Lane.
Today, the company has given the city's jobless figures a welcome boost after announcing the opening of a new logistics hub at its plant. The timely announcement comes after Government figures revealed Hull North is now the hardest place in the country to find work.
Joe Devitt, Managing Director at Crown Paints, said: "We are delighted to see jobs being created given such difficult economic circumstances. Last year, we celebrated Crown's 200-year association with production in the city and this is a great way to mark year 201."
Crown's new logistics hub will serve customers across the UK and Ireland as well as providing an export base to deliver paint to clients around the world. This has been enabled by Hull's portside location and close proximity to the motorway network, which underlines how Hull's location is one of the city's greatest assets - not just for the offshore wind industry but for manufacturers operating in all sectors.
Mr. Devitt said: "The Hull facility was a natural fit to sit alongside the manufacturing plant we have here. We also have another factory in Darwen in Lancashire, so it made sense to serve the eastern side of the Pennines from Hull, which also allows us to reduce the carbon emissions connected with distribution.
Last year, Crown became one of the first UK manufacturers to carbon footprint its entire product range. The groundbreaking step means every one of Crown's 240 ranges - more than half of which are manufactured in Hull- can be analyzed at each stage of its lifecycle. Devitt said: "By reducing our CO2 emissions, this new facility will help us achieve the challenging environmental targets we have set ourselves."
Finally, both silver and copper have been promoted for antimicrobial agents, but both have many drawbacks, including possible toxicity. Selenium is an inexpensive element that naturally belongs in the body. It is also known to combat bacteria. Still, it had not been tried as an antibiotic coating on a medical device material. In a new study, Brown University engineers report that when they used selenium nanoparticles to coat polycarbonate, the material of catheters and endotracheal tubes, the results were significant reductions in cultured populations of Staphylococcus aureusbacteria, sometimes by as much as 90%.
"We want to keep the bacteria from generating a biofilm," said Thomas Webster, professor of engineering and orthopedics, who studies how nanotechnology can improve medical implants. He is the senior author of the paper, published online this week in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.
Biofilms are notoriously tough colonies of bacteria to treat because they are often able to resist antibiotic drugs.
"The longer we can delay or inhibit completely the formation of these colonies, the more likely your immune system will clear them," Webster said. "Putting selenium on there could buy more time to keep an endotracheal tube in a patient."
Meanwhile, Webster said, because selenium is actually a recommended nutrient, it should be harmless in the body at the concentrations found in the coatings. Also, it is much less expensive than silver, a less biocompatible material that is the current state of the art for antibacterial medical device coatings.
Webster has been investigating selenium nanoparticles for years, mostly for their possible anticancer effects. As he began to look at their antibiotic properties, he consulted with Hasbro Children's Hospital pediatrician Keiko Tarquinio, assistant professor of pediatrics, who has been eager to find ways to reduce biofilms on implants.
For this study, Webster and first author Qi Wang grew selenium nanoparticles of two different size ranges and then used solutions of them to coat pieces of polycarbonate using a quick, simple process. On some of the polycarbonate, they then applied and ripped off tape not only to test the durability of the coatings but also to see how a degraded concentration of selenium would perform against bacteria.
In other news, Incitor Incorporated announced that the Cottonwood Technology Fund led an investment group to fund Incitor's next growth phase. Incitor's patent-pending low-temperature chemical process breaks down almost any biomass from agricultural, solid, woody or algal waste to create commodity petrochemical replacements, specialty bio-based chemicals, etc...more
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Along with numerous projects in the emerging markets, Dürr has recently received an order for the construction of an automotive paint shop in France. In the first quarter of 2012, Smart France SAS ordered a top coat line for their plant in Hambach. This line will start operations as early as December of this year...more
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Gevo, Inc. signed a collaborative agreement with the intent to site a cellulosic biomass isobutanol facility in Southeast Asia. Gevo's President and Chief Operating Officer, Chris Ryan, signed the collaborative agreement with representatives from the Malaysian government's East Coast Economic Region Development Council, Malaysian Biotechnology Corp and the State Government of Terengganu...more
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And finally, New Energy Technologies, Inc., developer of see-through solar cells for generating electricity on glass, announced an improvement in its manufacturing technique that should lead to higher speed, lower costs and greater durability. This should increase the amount of electricity produced when New Energy's see-through SolarWindow™ prototype is exposed to natural or artificial light...more
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