Fuller Sale Complete, Huntsman Studies Growth, Virdia Demo Plant
- Aug 14, 2012
Hello and welcome to your early week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. Deals start and are completed, plants expand, new products are introduced - we have it all in this issue, from all around the world. Let's commence.
H.B. Fuller Company announced last week that it has completed the sale of its Central America Paints business to Compania Global de Pinturas S.A. for $120 million. Following fulfillment of all conditions associated with the divestiture, the deal closed on August 6, 2012. Pintuco has operations in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama and the Caribbean. The company is an affiliate of Inversiones Mundial S.A., the holding company of Grupo Mundial, based in Medellin, Colombia.
Fuller's paints business has a leading market position in Central America with strong local manufacturing capabilities and a broad range of quality product lines, which are widely used for residential and commercial applications. The sold business includes nearly 800 employees who work across Central America and in production plants and laboratories in Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama.
Huntsman Corporation announced that it has commissioned engineering design studies to increase its global capacity for the manufacture of MDI through investment at its Geismar, Louisiana, USA site. Huntsman Polyurethanes operates other MDI facilities in Caojing, Shanghai, China; and Rozenburg, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Commenting on the studies, Anthony P. Hankins, President of Huntsman Polyurethanes, said: "We are studying several options for expansion of the Geismar facility to ensure we can satisfy the strong demand in residential and commercial insulation and to maintain our position as the leading MDI supplier in the Americas region. With the benefits of US shale gas, the economics of investing in our US facilities has improved significantly. The global market for MDI Urethanes is expected to continue to grow strongly well into the next decade, and the proposed investment in the United States will complement our previously announced planned expansion in China."
In sustainables news, Virdia, a developer of cellulosic sugars, announced the opening of its demonstration facility at its new technology center in Danville, Virginia, USA. Located on the campus for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, the facility is designed to demonstrate Virdia's CASE process in pilot scale, as well as produce commercially representative samples of cellulosic sugars and lignin for commercial applications.
"Siting our technology center and our demonstration facility in Virginia is the next key step towards commercial production for us," said Philippe Lavielle, CEO of Virdia. "Virdia's products are cost-competitive, and are setting new standards for industrial uses of cellulosic sugars and lignin. The technology is being established in pilot scale, and we now look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate it on an even larger scale. Looking ahead, our next step will be to site a commercial facility near sustainable sources of biomass."
Paint and coatings is an extremely democratic industry. Our product is inexpensive and necessary, and owing to this, new technological features expand over the globe with great speed, bettering the lives of millions. In addition, custom products, developed for specific climatic regions abound, and often expand at nearly the same rate as more generic coatings. The flip side of this is that recycled and reblended coatings are gaining popularity even in the richest areas of the world.
For instance, in Nigeria, a new brand of decorative paint that livens up the walls and living space with more than just color is in town. It is Osaka Paint.
Manufactured by Arte Osaka of Madrid, Spain, it is being introduced in the Nigerian market by Northgate Investment Limited, the franchise owner of Osaka Paint in the country.
Osaka paint is "something new, something different, something special" was how Mr. David Nkedive, Export Manager of Arte Osaka, who was in Nigeria to train professional painters on the use of the paint, described the product at the training session last week.
Associated with the product is the history of a brand that is strong and internationally well known for its quality in European, Asian, African and other markets of the world and through which the concept of high decoration is now being promoted in Nigeria.
The product has a range of names, which include Genesis, Madreperla, Bresi, Fantasia and Effecto Microcemento, each producing its own effects that help create an individual's own unique decorating statement. For instance, Madreperla comes with small particles produced in manufacturing process that makes the painting shine like a pearl when it is dry.
Chief of IT and Client Relations, Northgate Investment Limited, Mr. Martin Ukor, said using Osaka Paint is bringing a new meaning to decoration. The products are those that will appeal to the Nigerian market for various reasons.
"The paints are versatile and functional. They are those that work well with our region. They are anti-fungus, durable and you don't need to bother for a long time to re-paint and it will save you money over time. It means that you are getting durability and at the same time function for your space," said Ukor.
Barely two months old in Nigeria, what the franchise company has been doing is sensitizing its client base and providing training on how to apply it before pushing it out into the market.
Around the world in Fiji, stain resistant paint that lasts up to 15 years sums it up for the recently launched enhanced range of paint that has hit the local market. But there's more to APCO Coatings new range of exterior and indoor paints.
According to the company, its Villa Sunfast has been boosted with weather safe technology to last up to 15 years in the tough South Pacific environmental conditions.
APCO Coatings general manager Swapnil Talekar said the new range is eco-friendly and has a low odor.
The enhanced range of paint can withstand Fiji's tough environmental conditions, the company said. APCO Coatings says it was awarded ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification for its excellence in quality and environmental systems.
"The company is confident that these products will suit the needs of the Fijian market in terms of quality and lifestyle appeal," Talekar said.
A few select old codgers like me remember when most paint plants were painted in a peculiar shade of battleship grey, a color that came from combining odds and ends of batches, wash solvent and muffed batches that could not be reworked. Now this trend is hitting the mainstream, in of all places, the USA.
The truth is, partially-used containers of paint litter our landscape and disposal is difficult. Landfills won't take it and most cities charge a fee for disposing of it. As part of their green mission, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore chain is starting to collect and re-blend latex paint.
This paint comes in a variety of colors, depending on what is used in the blend. The store sells it for $29.95 in 5-gallon containers and it's great as primer or for areas using 5 gallons or less, (if you happen to like the resultant color,) because the color cannot be replicated once it's gone.
On another topic, some auto manufacturers have turned to a different type of finish in order to stand out: matte paints. These non-reflective finishes don't have the shiny, glossy appearance of typical new cars - but on the right vehicle, they can look seriously cool.
The only problem is that matte treatments require special attention when cleaning; otherwise they can be damaged irreparably. To find out how to best maintain the look of these expensive paint jobs, we looked at how BMW, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz instruct their customers to clean and maintain their cars' matte paint surfaces.
Matte paint finishes have long been a staple of the auto-show circuit, used to help make a concept car stand out from the glossy crowd. In recent years, mainstream automakers have brought matte colors to the general public. BMW first introduced its Frozen matte paints for various special editions of the M3, and recently made Frozen Bronze Metallic a $3500 option on the new 6 Series Gran Coupe. Hyundai's new Veloster Turbo can be optioned with matte grey paint for $1000. Mercedes-Benz has a far more extensive offering of matte paints, which are called Magno and cost $3950.
Though there are several ways to create matte paint finishes, most use a different type of clear coat. Whereas regular automotive paint is designed to be shiny, clear, and reflective, the clear coat on matte finishes is hazy and somewhat diffuses the underlying base coat color. Aftermarket suppliers also offer many colors for owners to repaint their cars in a matte finish, and exotic manufacturers like Lamborghini routinely show off custom matte cars. There also are matte vinyl wraps that can be applied over a car's existing paint, but those require different care methods.
The key point is to avoid allowing scratches or damage to the paint surface. Whereas small scratches or swirl marks in normal shiny paint finishes can be corrected with waxes or other methods, damage in a matte paint job is usually permanent. Attempting to fix even a small scratch can start to change the surface qualities of matte paint, making for an inconsistent appearance.
For the same reason, all three aforementioned automakers recommend against automatic car washes. The tough nylon bristles of rotating brushes will scratch and damage the matte paint, so owners should wash by hand every time. Finally, most liquid or paste car waxes should be avoided because they include cleaning agents that will change the luster and sheen on the paint surface. BMW, Mercedes, and Hyundai strongly warn against ever using any kind of polish, wax, or rubbing compounds.
Both BMW and Mercedes stress that anything that sticks to the paint surface, like dead bugs, tree sap, or bird droppings, should be removed immediately. Because rubbing aggressively can ruin the matte finish, the companies recommend dousing the item in insect remover or car-wash soap before gently rubbing it away. Water spots should likewise be cleaned off quickly, even if they result from something as trivial as driving past a garden sprinkler.
There's one final word of warning to customers considering buying a car with a matte paint finish. Both Hyundai and BMW explicitly state that any damage to the paint caused by improper care or environmental factors is excluded from warranty coverage. In other words, you're on your own if you ruin the paint.
In research news, fragile carbon nanotube (CNT) aerogels that are covered by a graphene coating can be transformed from a material that easily collapses under compression to one that can resist large amounts of compression and completely recover its original shape after removal of the load. The superelasticity and fatigue resistance provided by the graphene coating could make CNT aerogels useful in a variety of areas, including as electrodes, artificial muscles, and other mechanical structures.
The researchers, Kyu Hun Kim, Youngseok Oh, and Mohammad F. Islam at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have published their paper on the mechanical benefits of a graphene coating on CNT aerogels in a recent issue of Nature Nanotechnology.
"We demonstrate the transformation of a nanotube network from fragile to superelastic simply via 'nanocoating'," Islam said. "Typically, coating adds corrosion resistance, lubrication, aesthetics, alteration of surface chemistry, sealing, etc., but not mechanical property change."
CNT aerogels hold their shape due to molecular interactions at the nodes, the points where the nanotubes cross each other. When these aerogels are compressed, they collapse or become permanently deformed, limiting potential applications.
To overcome this inelasticity problem, the researchers demonstrated that one to five layers of graphene coating enables a CNT aerogel to withstand more than 1 million compressive cycles and return to its original shape after compression release. The ability to withstand this compression turns the aerogels into superelastic materials, while at the same time allowing them to maintain their other properties such as porosity and conductivity.
The researchers think that the graphene coating imparts this superelasticity to the aerogel by strengthening the aerogel's nodes and struts, both of which support the aerogel's network structure. In non-coated aerogels, the struts can bend and rotate around the nodes when compressed, which increases the contact area between nanotubes and forms new nodes. When the load is removed, the new nodes remain since more force is required to remove the nodes than to form them.
In contrast, the struts in graphene-coated aerogels cannot easily rotate around the nodes when compressed. Although new nodes are formed in the coated aerogels, the graphene coating can remove these nodes when the load is removed.
"Both CNT aerogels and graphene-coated CNT aerogels form 'new' nodes when compressed," Islam explained. "We think that the graphene at the nodes gets compressed and crumpled when the graphene-coated aerogels are compressed. The compressed and crumpled graphene flakes act as springs and provide the restorative force that is needed to break these new nodes in graphene-coated aerogels." CNT aerogels that can undergo high levels of compression and later spring back to their original shapes could open the doors to new aerogel applications.
"We are currently working on a few projects," Islam said. "We are using SWCNT aerogels to make electrically conducting composites. We are also looking into making mechanically strong polymer composites. With our collaborators, we are exploring the electrochemical properties of SWCNT aerogels. We are growing metal nanoparticles on these SWCNT aerogels for use as filters for remediation of harmful chemicals from water. Also we are using them as porous 3D conducting substrates for tissue growth.
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