The paint industry wants to become greener. In 2030 at least half of the raw materials in their products must be of bio-based origin, without compromising quality. Paints are currently largely petroleum-based. TNO has been working with paint and printing ink manufacturers (VVVF) and chemical (VNCI) associations to identify the possibilities of realising this goal.
Socially, economically and even technically, ‘greening’ is an obvious step: legislation demands ever tougher environmental requirements, fossil-based materials will become more expensive in the future and better bio-based products can already be manufactured (PEF bottles). But the targets can only be reached if the whole chain works together: the paint industry, the chemical sector and painting companies. So TNO organised a meeting at which tens of companies from this chain shared ideas to pinpoint opportunities for bio-based coatings. The role of TNO was to transfer the latest technological knowledge, foster cooperation and set out a plan that could enable the parties to take further concrete steps. ‘It is not just about what is technically feasible but also about viability, market acceptance, business cases and cooperation within the chain. Everything has to be right for us to achieve the goals,’ says Corne Rentrop, TNO coatings expert.
The technological challenges are also already interesting in themselves because the product properties of the new paints and coatings must be at least as good as the current crop. TNO, VVVF and VNCI have identified five initiatives to be detailed:
- Demonstrate what is possible by the very latest technology.
- Continue development of current commercial bio-based components into new resins.
- Include the results of the ‘bio-based aromatics’ project.
- Investigate which other industry sectors may benefit from the findings. The paint and coatings market is relatively small but the results of this initiative may be of good use to other products and sectors.
- Make government and politicians enthusiastic about bio-based coatings.
‘Bio-based aromatics is an example of a shared research programme in which TNO and the Flemish research institute VITO, in cooperation with industry, focus on the production of bioaromatics. Aromatics are key raw materials, also for coatings. Currently hardly any bioaromatics are commercially available. The idea is to produce these from biomass and thus contribute to greening. Rentrop: ‘That research could be important for our project with VVVF and VNCI. For paints and coatings we want raw materials, such as resins, that are bio-based. We now convert petroleum into monomers that we turn into resins and ultimately paints and coatings. We will be experimenting with bioaromatics that have properties that are similar to or better than today’s monomers.’ We also include bio-raw materials available on a large scale but not yet being used in current resins.
TNO is appealing to companies within the paint, coatings and chemical industries, painting companies or other sectors that could benefit from this project to register participation in one of the five initiatives. ‘This concerns pre-competitive research, for instance into new coatings compounds. Sharing knowledge leads to concrete results much faster and give your company a lead,’ Rentrop says assuredly.