Hello and welcome to your early week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. I have frankly never seen a streak of research announcements as long as we have enjoyed over the past month in my nearly 30 years in coatings. Between nanotechnology, biosustainability and energy, we seem to be upon an industry renaissance of sorts -- a time where we are actually setting the path of the industry, rather than refining the performance of products, and after the long, cold economic winter, this feels really good. First though, we have the news...
Arkema announced a major project for the development of its Kynar PVDF business in Europe. Over €70M are to be invested into the Pierre-Bénite site in France, in particular to increase Kynar PVDF production capacity, and so support customers in high-growth applications. This capital expenditure plan will help increase fluoropolymer production capacity in Pierre-Bénite 50% by 2014. It also entails major technological advances such as the implementation of an innovative high purity process, a new effluent treatment plant, and a contribution to investments for the implementation of the site's Technological Risk Prevention Plan.
This program will provide long-term visibility for the fluorochemicals activity as a whole in France, and so consolidate the production chain around the Pierre-Bénite site as well as the Saint-Auban site which produces the monomer for some of the fluorogases. In addition to Europe with Pierre-Bénite, Saint-Auban and Zaramillo, Arkema operates fluorochemical facilities in China with the Changshu platform and in the United States with the Calvert City site, both of which have been benefiting from many investments in the last 3 years.
Fortech Products is expanding its production, laboratory and office facilities in Michigan, USA. The company recently moved into a new 80,000-square-foot headquarters on a 27-acre tract in Brighton, Michigan, nearly tripling its production capacity, adding 25 percent more warehouse space, increasing product storage capacity by 75,000 gallons and further expanding its full-service research-and-development laboratories.
Creighton Forester, Fortech's CEO and President, notes that the new facilities are designed to meet rapidly growing customer demand for the company's products and services. "Fortech sales have grown by more than 25% in the last 12 months alone," Forester reports. "In the months ahead, we also expect to see significant increases in our sales of corrosion-resistant coatings and the lubricants we package for the aftermarket."
Hydromer, Inc. and N8 Medical, Inc. have entered into a Supply and Support Agreement. Under the terms of this agreement, both parties will work together to jointly create and commercialize new antimicrobial coatings for the medical device market. The parties seek to capitalize on Hydromer's leadership in medical grade polymeric coating technology in combination with N8 Medical's novel class of compounds known as Ceragenins or CSAs.
Testing has shown that coating approaches combining Hydromer technology and Ceragenins are highly effective in combating biofilms and a broad spectrum of microbes, and thus have the potential to significantly reduce HAIs, thereby possibly saving patients' lives, reducing morbidity and saving healthcare systems worldwide billions of dollars annually.
OK, so let's start with something a little bit crazy. I always like the smell of fresh paint, but I've snorked so much solvent over the years, I realize that others' mileage may vary. Here's a response that I consider to be extreme, however.
A disgruntled patron drove his pickup truck into a new door at a Wisconsin tavern and damaged it, police say, because he didn't like the fresh paint smell on the door. As a result, the man was charged in Eau Claire County Court with a felony count of criminal damage to property.
Police were called to the bar just after 10 p.m. on May 28 after the door valued at $2,743 was damaged. According to the criminal complaint, the bar's owner had just installed the door and the man, a regular customer, complained about the paint smell.
The guy left the bar on his motorcycle and returned with his pickup truck. When he got to the bar, he got out of his truck, kicked a small ladder and painting supplies out of the way, got back into his truck and drove into the door, the complaint stated. He then backed up the truck and left the scene.
Police contacted Andersen at his residence. Andersen said he probably overreacted and knew he would have to pay for the damaged door, according to the complaint.
On to more serious subjects, researchers at Rice University have developed a paint that works as a battery, and it could change the way batteries are produced and reduce energy storage restrictions.
The paint-on battery is similar in material balance to traditional lithium-ion batteries. It has five layers -- a positive and a negative current collector, a cathode, an anode and an ion-conducting separator in the middle.
But unlike typical lithium batteries, a perfected paint-on version wouldn't carry the same restrictions in design that traditional batteries do. Each layer is sprayed on rather than pieced together.
As consumer electronic products such as smartphones and tablets get smaller and thinner, engineers struggle to fit a long-lasting, traditional battery into tighter spaces. A painted battery could alleviate those design restrictions.
Additionally, as scientists explore alternative forms of energy and look to add batteries to new technologies such as solar panels or textiles, a versatile, spray-on battery has the potential to eliminate further design frustrations.
"Paintable batteries have the capability of direct and seamless integration with objects," Neelam Singh, lead author on the study, said.
Researchers tested the paint layers on ceramics, glass and stainless steel on a variety of shaped surfaces to see how they would react to the different structures.
The results of the study were published last Thursday in Nature Scientific Reports.
The current product is also limited in scope because it cannot be handled by non-professionals and still can't stand all outside elements.
"To be able to make batteries at home we need to develop materials that are safer, non-toxic and do not degrade in the presence of air or moisture," said Singh.
The team has acknowledged those drawbacks and is already working on the next step to making the spray-on battery a viable product, said Singh.
"We have demonstrated the concept of paintable batteries, and the next step is to develop new materials for the battery that are not air- or moisture-sensitive, [and are] non-toxic and safe to handle by non-experts," said Singh. "We are also working on developing paints for packaging the battery and making every layer, including packaging, by spray-painting technique."
If the researchers can improve the life of the spray-on battery, it could still be several years before a product hits the market. But if it does, the practical applications could be widespread across industries that are experimenting with battery power, the biggest possibility being with solar power, said Singh. Since solar panels require large surface areas, the design could be ideal.
"Our current work is the demonstration of the paintable battery concept, but it opens up immense possibilities of integration with energy capture devices such as solar cells, as well as objects of daily use," she said. "We think that it can be used with printed electronics, RFID or other smart objects."
In marketing news, to help people connect to the power in color, Valspar announced the debut of their ConnectLIVE app, an innovative tool that offers live paint color consultations with a professional color consultant, directly from the comfort of your home. For a limited time, ConnectLIVE is available free to the public for download from the App Store for iPad2 and iPad3 users, and will be available soon for iPhone 4S. The app enables users to schedule and conduct a customized 30-minute color consultation with a color consultant, valued at approximately $75.
ConnectLIVE uses video technology to create a virtual one-on-one appointment between Do-It-Yourself painters and a Valspar color consultant, who creates a customized color scheme tailored to each participant's space. During a ConnectLIVE appointment, the Valspar color consultant views the participant's interior living space and personal style aesthetic, and following an open dialogue, recommends a personalized Valspar color palette for their space. The palette will include coordinated picks for any paintable surfaces in the room, including: accent walls, ceilings, trim, fireplaces, and more. The ConnectLIVE app allows users to preview a digital color chip of the recommended Valspar paint colors on the screen. Following the appointment, participants will receive a summary of all paint colors from their custom, expert-curated palette.
Valspar ConnectLIVE color consultations are available by appointment only, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. EDT and Saturday, 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. EDT. The ConnectLIVE color consultant appointments are available for interior rooms only. During the scheduled appointment, participants must be in the room that they would like the color consultant to preview, and WiFi access is required. Consultations are scheduled on a first come, first serve basis through the Valspar ConnectLIVE app.
In industry news, Jotun Group has pledged to increase its presence in China by offering continuous investment in the coming years. As part of its efforts to address the growing demands of the Asian market, the group recently unveiled its powder coatings factory and regional research and development center in China.
With a total investment of 200 million yuan ($31.4 million), the new production facility for powder coatings was established at its original factory, which is located in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, and focuses on the production of protective coatings and decorative paints.
The factory in Zhangjiagang covers an area of 130,000 square meters with production capacity for powder coatings of about 10,000 tons a year.
The new R&D center will focus on the creation and development of products for coatings, paints and powder coatings that is in line with the Chinese market.
"Now China is the world's largest and fastest growing powder coatings market. The opening of these two new facilities is a strategic move for our development in China," said Bjorn Naglestad, general manager of Jotun Coatings China. He added that the production capacity of powder coatings in the Zhangjiagang factory will finally meet the goal of 14,000 tons a year.
"We have fully recognized that we are not the first one entering the Chinese market but we have the ambition to become the best because we have a clearer market position," said Julia Zhu, Powder Coatings Business Director of Jotun China.
"In addition to providing quality products, we will pay more attention to our service in the hope of adding more value for our clients," she added.
Naglestad disclosed that the company will continue to increase its investment in China in the next two years and is also planning to invest in a new factory in China.
"We have to decide where to establish the new factory -- in Zhangjiagang or another area," he said.
"We will perform as a coating expert in the market which means we not only know ourselves but also understand our clients and have a good knowledge of related fields. We will offer comprehensive solutions to our clients, such as storage and transportation," he said.
In addition to the Zhangjiagang factory, Jotun also has a joint venture company with Cosco International for marine coatings production in Guangzhou. Another facility for marine coatings production in Qingdao, Shandong province is under construction.
Oxford University researchers have been handed a check to develop a new solar cell coating that would make next generation panels much more affordable. Currently, the vast majority of panels are coated in indium tin oxide (ITO). Indium is a scarce material, and is much in demand for a variety of hardware purposes, such as LCD screens and indeed solar photovoltaic panels. In fact the total market for ITO will be worth around $26.8 billion by 2016.
Due to the scarcity of supply and volatile pricing of ITO, researchers are attempting to find cheaper alternatives for conductive solar cell coatings. This is good for people, not to mention the clear benefits for the environment in terms of making PV panels more readily available.
For example research is currently going into the development of "wonder material", graphene, for just this purpose.
However, the Oxford researchers are developing a new type of coating which is based on more readily available materials. This involves the use of zinc, a more abundant element. The team at Oxford are now using funding from the Materials Science Venture Prize to develop solar panel coatings using silicon doped zinc oxide.
This material apparently offers less conductivity - around two thirds that of ITO - but other attributes such as transparency are similar.
With the material easier to come by though, it will mean that its use on large scale panels will be a lot cheaper.
The funding will now mean that the team are able to test out manufacturing processes, and will explore the use of silicon doped zinc oxide in LCD screens and other applications.
In other news, Cambridge NanoTech announced that it has entered a licensing agreement with Ghent University to commercialize an ALD particle coating technology. Cambridge NanoTech will expand on their current product portfolio of research and manufacturing ALD systems and develop the Cyprus™ system, a product dedicated to ALD coatings of particles, powders, and small 3-D objects with and without plasma...
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In searching for better flame retardants for home furnishings - a large source of fuel in house fires - NIST researchers defied the conventional wisdom and literally hit a wall, one made of clay. The thick, fast-forming coating that the NIST team created has a uniformly high concentration of flame-inhibiting clay particles, and it adheres strongly to the Swiss cheese-like surface of polyurethane foam...
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Univar Inc. announced that it has signed an agreement with OXEA to distribute its OXFILM 351 coalescing agent in Benelux, France, Italy, Spain, and the Nordic region. OXFILM 351 is a low odor, near-zero-VOC coalescing agent with a plasticizer effect. It has a VOC content of less than 0.5 percent, and at the same time is 10-20% more efficient in reducing the minimum film forming temperature...
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And finally, European private equity firm, Cinven announced that it has reached agreement to acquire Prezioso Technilor ("Prezioso" or the "Company") from Indigo Capital for an undisclosed consideration. Prezioso is a leading provider of coating and insulation services which maintain vital industrial infrastructures in the energy and infrastructure sector...
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