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Editorial

TCI Develops Red Powder Coatings for FCA, HMG Paints Partners to Develop Graphene-based Coatings, AkzoNobel Increases Expandable Microspheres Capacity

SpecialChem / Mark Drukenbrod – Jul 13, 2017

Hello and welcome to your late week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. In industry news since last issue, Perstorp announced an agreement for the acquisition of Polialcoli Srl from Polioli S.p.A. and Evonik allocated € 100 million for digitalization and entered into cooperation with IBM and the University of Duisburg-Essen. QUIMOVIL and AIMPLAS have started a project for the development of new water-based laminable flexographic inks and two new initiatives in the Netherlands are aimed at developing an open access pilot plant for the polymerization of bio based monomers. There’s much more where we continue and as always, you can go to the above items now using the links, or checkout our latest stories, which we’ll get to right away…

TCI Develops Red Powder Coatings for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles


TCI Powder Coatings has developed a specially formulated product for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in its new Product Development Lab. FCA needed a “Demonic Red” color that would meet underbody and under-hood requirements as well as performance specifications to protect the valve covers and engine blocks of the Dodge Challenger SRT® Demon. Other powder coaters were struggling to find a match within a reasonable timeline. With the support of TCI Powder Coatings’ Product Development Team, the development of the “Demonic Red” color was prioritized and launched via TCI’s stage gate process. Through this process, TCI was able to quickly dedicate its resources, prioritize the project, and deliver on an expedited timeframe. The Chrysler Zr3 Performance Red powder coating was developed and soon approved by FCA. TCI Powder Coatings was able to deliver on its promise of quick turnaround without sacrificing performance or quality. Currently, multiple fabricators and coaters are using the new product and have seen excellent results.

HMG Paints Partners to Develop Graphene-based Coatings


HMG Paints has partnered with Applied Graphene Materials (AGM) to develop and commercialize Graphene containing coatings for a variety of industries. HMG is combining its coatings experience with Graphene and product integration expertise of Applied Graphene Materials. The newly developed products will possess specifically enhanced characteristics. The products can be applied for a number of coatings applications. Following an initial stage of controlled environment testing, which produced some extremely positive results, the two companies are now testing their product in a real world environment. Tests will focus on the application of Graphene based coatings in both the Commercial Vehicle and Construction Equipment markets.

AkzoNobel to Increase Expandable Microspheres Capacity


AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business is investing more than Euro 20 million to increase production capacity in Sweden for its Expancel product line for expandable microspheres. Increasing demand for the product – an essential ingredient in many consumer goods, industrial applications and the construction industry – means the company will expand its Stockvik facility near Sundsvall. Completion is expected by the end of 2018. Sylvia Winkel, Director of Expancel at AkzoNobel, says: “Expancel microspheres are used in a number of important growth markets, such as food packaging, paints and the automotive industry. We are seeing a strong increase in demand for the product and the expansion will ensure our ability to serve our customers globally.” Expancel consists of expandable, microscopic spheres comprising a thermoplastic shell encapsulating a gas. When heated, they expand dramatically – up to 60 times in volume – making them ideal for a variety of uses, such as insulation in shoe soles or as filling material.

On Your Coatings Radar: Activist Investors Swarm Another Merger


By this time, we’re all familiar with the new role of activist investors in the modern large merger scene. A case in point is Elliott Advisors, who is still trying to depose AkzoNobel’s chairman in order, it is assumed, to maximize shareholder value by forcing the company into a merger that the executives do not find optimal for the corporation, but that the activist investors see as unlocking value.
Now there is another example in the other large merger that is live in the industry: Clariant with Huntsman, but to be correct, we have to venture into “opposite world”, as these investors are seeking to block that merger. Activist investor Keith Meister's Corvex hedge fund and New York's 40 North have taken a 7.2 percent stake in Clariant to fight the Swiss chemical maker's planned merger with Huntsman Corporation.

"There are excellent opportunities to unlock value from the many high quality businesses that currently comprise Clariant," said a spokesman for White Tale, the investment group that the investors created to buy the Clariant stake. "Unfortunately, we do not believe that the proposed merger with the Huntsman Corporation is one of those options."

The principles are experienced investors, although not necessarily in the chemical marketspace. Meister, a follower of investor Carl Icahn, manages assets worth roughly $6 billion with Corvex. 40 North, run by New York real estate investor David Winter and former financial analyst David Millstone, held a stake in Clariant before linking with Corvex in their bid to nix the Huntsman deal.

Clariant last Tuesday cited and acknowledged the increased investment by Corvex without addressing Corvex's opposition to the merger, saying that it has been in contact with the hedge fund since last year when it initially took a stake.

Regular readers of this letter will remember that Clariant and Huntsman in May announced a merger valued at around $20 billion including debt in which Clariant shareholders would hold 52 percent of the combination. They expect about $400 million in annual cost synergies, creating a company with about $13 billion in annual sales.

Corvex and 40 North contend that the Clariant-Huntsman transaction lacks a strategic rationale and undercuts Clariant's ongoing strategy of becoming a pure-play specialty chemicals company. Many analysts, however, say the merger makes sense, in particular after Huntsman spins off its Venator pigments business in an IPO.

A date has yet to be set for shareholders to vote on the merger, Clariant said, but a Bloomberg report cited a source familiar with the situation saying a meeting would be scheduled only after Huntsman spins off Venator.

QUIMOVIL & AIMPLAS Start Project for WB Flexographic Inks Development


QUIMOVIL and AIMPLAS have started a project funded by the Ministry of Economy through the program RETOS COLABORACIÓN to allow the development of new printing water-based laminable flexographic inks for the flexible packaging industry. It will allow a reduction of VOC emissions.

Currently, a high percentage of flexible food packaging is manufactured by using solvent-based inks, due to the high quality and productivity needs in the printing and lamination processes.

This kind of components have a number of drawbacks, such as the VOC emission into the atmosphere, security risks due to the flammability of inks and varnishes, as well as the high investment and maintenance costs to recover solvents during printing.

Through the development of the project AQUAFLEX, coordinated by QUIMOVIL, it is expected to get a new formulation of laminable water-based flexographic inks with the same printing and laminating quality properties as solvent-based inks.

The new product will allow a reduction of VOC emissions by 90-95 % to a competitive cost. For that purpose, some of the challenges of this project involve improving the print speeds of water-based inks and reducing their energy consumption in the drying process.

Netherlands Aims to Scale-up Polymerization of Bio-based Monomers


Two new initiatives in the Netherlands are aimed at realizing an open access pilot plant for polymerization of biobased monomers. Polymerization of biobased monomers is an important step in making coatings from plant materials which can compete with their fossil counterparts.

The catalyst for both initiatives is the Biobased Performance Materials research program, coordinated by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. The program facilitates fundamental and applied research into new biobased materials that can compete with their fossil counterparts and is sponsored by the Dutch government’s top sector Chemistry.

Christiaan Bolck, Director of the BPM Program, says: “When the end market is not sufficiently in sight, a dedicated polymerization pilot plant is often too costly and risky for individual companies.”

“This is why the BPM program aims to scale up the production of new polymers with open access pilot initiatives that can result in unique properties and/or application possibilities. There are currently no facilities with the required specialist knowledge available to companies who are looking to scale up but cannot or will not invest in a dedicated pilot plant on their own. Due to the economic opportunities for upscaling – and potential spin-off – it would be best if such a pilot is linked to a suitable industrial infrastructure.”

Chemport Europe region in the North of the Netherlands and the Biobased Delta region in the South West of the Netherlands have joined forces with BPM to establish world-class shared facilities. The first pilot facility, planned in Etten-Leur, is focused on ring-opening polymerization of biobased monomers. The second pilot facility is planned in Emmen, at the Sustainable Polymer Innovation Campus (SPIC).

Jan Noordegraaf, General Director at Synbra Technology, said: “The realization of this pilot, adjacent to the Synbra premises, enables the development of new copolymers which can convert new biobased monomers into polymers in an infrastructure that we have always wanted to achieve with the parties in the Biobased Delta.”

Five larger and ten smaller companies have already indicated a desire to make use of the pilot.

Gerard Nijhoving, Managing Director of Senbis, said: “The SPIC innovation cluster already has all the required hardware, and enables us to easily make the link to applications, such as multifilament yarns or monofilaments for 3D printing.”

“Emmen has already realized lots of research into polycondensation to improve the performance of polyester and polyamide yarns. We have received many questions over recent years regarding biopolymers, in particular, as they often have a polyester-like structure. As upscaling these can be difficult we are initiating a polycondensation pilot facility with a capacity of 50 to 100 kg a day.”

According to Bolck, the two routes – ring-opening and polycondensation – fit within the BPM program well and are aligned to the research of Wageningen University & Research.

Clariant Clinches 3rd Straight Responsible Care Chairman Award in China


Clariant was recently presented the Chairman Award during the 2017 Responsible Care award ceremony in Shanghai, China. The event is hosted by the Association of International Chemical Manufacturers (AICM) once every two years in China since 2013 to recognize the outstanding achievements of members in implementing the Responsible Care self-initiative, which advocates performance improvements in the areas of six Responsible Care codes.

"Receiving the Chairman Award from AICM is another milestone of Clariant along its sustainability journey. By earning this award, Clariant has demonstrated its full commitment to Responsible Care, which is integrated into our daily operation and stands for continuous improvements on the forefront of sustainability," says Margaret Soong, Head of Corporate Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs in Greater China at Clariant.

This is the third time Clariant has been presented the biyearly Chairman Award since AICM initiated the award in 2013. This year Clariant was again selected as the winner of the award after a rigorous evaluation process involving some 60 other international chemical manufacturers in China. In addition to fulfilling the six codes of practice under Responsible Care, Clariant also proactively shared best practices, and opened its sites and headquarters for Responsible Care peer review. The company also runs various corporate citizenship activities regularly.

"It is the third time for Clariant to win the Chairman Award from AICM. It further demonstrates our continuous efforts to fulfill Responsible Care obligations," says Jan Kreibaum, Clariant's Regional Head of Greater China/South Korea. "Furthermore, our team in China has done a great job of implementing Responsible Care into our daily operation, including regular open-to-public activities at many of our sites."

Dow Expands PU Service Centers Eastward


Dow Polyurethanes, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, is expanding its PU service centers in an easterly direction throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The company has opened a new Polyurethanes Service Center in Romania, expanding an already strong network of more than 20 sites for production, development and technical service across the region.

Located in Brasov County, the new facility is equipped with technical and commercial capabilities to serve customers in Romania, Bulgaria and the wider Balkan region with high-quality polyurethane materials.

Further network expansion plans are anticipated later this year with a similar center due to open in Africa dedicated to support customer needs in the Middle East and Africa Region.

"Our new Service Center in Romania represents another building block of our strategy to support customer growth through unrivalled technical service and the development of customised solutions geared to local market needs," said Jon Penrice, Vice President Dow Polyurethanes Europe, Middle East, Africa and India (EMEAI). "The new center will play a pivotal role in taking collaboration with our customers to the next level, by bringing local expertise and new capabilities that will improve response times and accelerate technology innovation."

The new Polyurethanes Service Centers will help accelerate both existing and new opportunities in the Balkan, Middle East and Africa regions, improving the speed and efficiency of application development. They will provide customers’ access to laboratory and equipment capabilities and tailored technical service, including product demonstrations, prototype development and mechanical testing of final materials. Additionally, the centers will provide training opportunities for customers and have warehousing capabilities for several Polyurethane Systems.

"Romania is one of the most promising and fastest-growing markets in Central and Eastern Europe. By opening the Service Center in Brasov, Dow reinforces its commitment to helping grow Romania’s economy further in areas such as infrastructure development as well as building and construction," said Claudiu Tuncu, Country Leader Dow Romania and Bulgaria. "Moreover, Dow’s longstanding presence in Romania gives us the advantage of deep local knowledge and expertise in this market."

Perstorp to Strengthen Position in Polyol Market


Perstorp, producer of Neopentyl Polyhydric alcohols (Polyols), announced July 7, an agreement for the acquisition of Polialcoli Srl from Polioli SpA. The agreement includes the Neo, TMP and TMPDE as well as the associated Formate businesses located at the Vercelli site (Italy). Included in the transaction are also technology, know-how and equipment. The 74 employees who are currently employed in the acquired company, are welcomed to the Perstorp group.

“Polioli SpA has been under receivership for the last four years. We have seen a potential in these products but it has proven increasingly difficult to run these product lines in smaller scale plants. In order to be successful we have come to the conclusion that it makes more sense to operate these assets through a larger company with global reach. It was therefore natural for us to approach Perstorp”, says Polioli CEO Federico Ferlin.

“The transaction is fully in line with Perstorp’s strategy to further strengthen our position in the Polyols market. TMP and Neo are both key products in our Polyol portfolio, which is a core business within Perstorp. These product lines have been instrumental in the development of Perstorp as an international company and we are happy to expand our position further to be able to serve a strong demand from the market”, Perstorp President and CEO Jan Secher says.

The transaction is scheduled to close on 31 August or at such later date as the required procedures have been completed.

Perstorp is now producing TMP, in addition to Italy, in China, the US and Sweden, and Neo in China and Sweden.

Axalta’s Premium Refinish Brands Approved by Volkswagen Group Italia S.p.A.


Axalta Coating Systems recently signed a new, three-year commercial agreement with Volkswagen Group Italia S.p.A.

“This approval for Italy of the three premium brands was a deliberate and significant step for us. We wanted to provide our Service Partners with the advanced refinish paint technologies and tailored support they need to produce high-quality results for our customers.”

“Axalta has a global contract with the Volkswagen Group in place, but we are delighted that the Volkswagen Group Italia has demonstrated its confidence in our premium brands’ refinish products and services by granting us separate approval at the national level,” says Marco Stefano Brioschi, Managing Director for Axalta in Italy.

Alberto Casati, Head of Spare Parts and Accessories at Volkswagen Group Italia says, “This approval for Italy of the three premium brands was a deliberate and significant step for us. We wanted to provide our Service Partners with the advanced refinish paint technologies and tailored support they need to produce high-quality results for our customers.”

The waterborne technologies and high performance products of Cromax, Spies Hecker and Standox all underwent extensive testing at the Volkswagen Group technology department in Wolfsburg, Germany, before global approval was granted.

Volkswagen Group Italia S.p.A. is the Italian Subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group that distributes vehicles for the Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Group brands.

Henkel Closes Acquisitions of Darex and Sonderhoff


On July 4, Henkel announced the successful closing of the acquisitions of the global Darex Packaging Technologies business and the Sonderhoff Group.

Darex is based in Cambridge, MA, USA and supplies high-performance sealants and coatings for the metal packaging industry around the world. It serves various global customers producing beverage, food or aerosol cans. The acquisition was announced at the beginning of March. The purchase price amounted to 1,050 million US dollars (around 919 million euros) on a cash and debt free basis.

The Sonderhoff Group, headquartered in Cologne, Germany, is a leading manufacturer of innovative foamed-in-place gasketing solutions and has broad expertise in developing and manufacturing customized dosing equipment. The acquisition of Sonderhoff was announced in May. Both parties agreed to not disclose financial details of the transaction.

“Strengthening our portfolio through targeted acquisitions is part of our strategy. Closing both transactions will allow us to expand the position of our Adhesive Technologies business as a global market and technology leader,” said Henkel CEO Hans Van Bylen.

“The Darex and Sonderhoff Group businesses will complement our existing technology portfolio in an excellent way. Both companies serve attractive markets with substantial growth opportunities and both businesses provide customer-specific, high-impact solutions with an outstanding technical expertise,” said Jan-Dirk Auris, Executive Vice President Adhesive Technologies at Henkel.

“We will finance the transactions with a combination of cash and debt. In addition to the 600 million Eurodollar bond placed end of May at attractive conditions, cash and the existing commercial paper programs will be used,” said CFO Carsten Knobel.

In fiscal 2016, Darex Packaging Technologies generated sales of 309 million US dollars (around 290 million euros). Darex has about 700 employees and 20 sites in 19 countries.

The Sonderhoff Group generated sales of about 60 million euros in 2016. The company employs around 280 people worldwide. Sonderhoff is headquartered in Germany and has subsidiaries in Austria, Italy, the US and China.

Eckart America Reopens After Weekend Warehouse Explosion


Altana Group’s Eckart America pigment facility in Painesville, Ohio reopened its Sunday evening, July 9, a day after an explosion and a fire wrecked a warehouse there.

Local media sources reported that Painesville city and state environmental officials said runoff spilled into a storm sewer but has not yet reached the Grand River, about 30 yards from the warehouse. Public and private crews are working to remove the waste and divert it from the Grand,. "We're fairly confident that the contamination to the environment was minimal," Mark Mlachak, Painesville's fire chief, said on Sunday.

The plant was closed Saturday when the explosion took place, and no one was injured. The Painesville fire department got word at 1:35 p.m. Many agencies responded, including 14 other fire departments, the Coast Guard, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the State Fire Marshal's division.

Spontaneous System Follows Rules of Equilibrium – Northwestern University


As your editor, I like to call your attention to some information that you may not be able to get elsewhere. This is the best treatment on colloidal equilibrium that I’ve seen since graduate school (at least,) and I encourage you to give it a read.

Scientists have long known the ins and outs of equilibrium thermodynamics. Systems in equilibrium — a stable state of unchanging balance — are governed by a neat set of rules, making them predictable and easy to explore.

“In equilibrium, there is a fantastic framework that is very well tested. There are almost no assumptions,” said Northwestern Engineering’s Erik Luijten. “The problem is that most systems in nature are not in equilibrium. For those, we don’t have a useful framework with the same predictive capabilities.”

Now an international team with members from opposite sides of the world has discovered evidence that a neat framework for non-equilibrium systems just might exist. Led by Luijten and Steve Granick of Korea’s Institute for Basic Science (IBS), the team found a non-equilibrium system that quantitatively behaves like an equilibrium system. The finding could lead to a set of rules that makes it possible to predict the properties of non-equilibrium systems, which experience constant changes in energy and are required for all forms of life.

“Tolstoy said, ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ This is exactly what scientists have thought about equilibrium systems versus non-equilibrium systems. All equilibrium systems are similar, but each non-equilibrium system is non-equilibrium in its own way,” said Granick, who directs the IBS Center for Soft and Living Matter. “We found that these seemingly unpredictable systems might be predictable after all.”

Supported by the IBS, US Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, the research was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Luijten and Granick are the paper’s co-corresponding authors. Ming Han, a PhD student in Luijten’s laboratory, and Jing Yan, a former graduate student at the University of Illinois, served as co-first authors of the paper.

Driven by external electromagnetic fields, Janus colloids perform circular motions, dynamically differentiating into two species. By varying the rotation's radius, the system can undergo a phase transition fully analogous to that of a thermal binary fluid.

The research was spurred when Granick and Yan noticed something strange in the laboratory. As they watched a random mixture of soft-matter particles called Janus colloids, which Granick previously developed, they observed that the particles sometimes sorted themselves by type. Named after the Roman god with two faces, the micron-sized spheres have one hemisphere coated with a thin metal layer. They self-propel in the presence of an electric field, and when a rotating magnetic field is applied, they move in circles. In the presence of these fields, about 50 percent of the colloids orient their metal-coated hemisphere in the same direction. The remaining 50 percent face in the opposite direction.

“When the oppositely oriented particles move in circles, they bump into each other and are ejected out of their orbit,” said Luijten, professor of materials science and engineering, engineering sciences and applied mathematics, and physics and astronomy. “The particles continue to be kicked out of their orbits until they are only surrounded by the same type. Right-facing particles are surrounded by other right-facing particles, and left-facing particles are surrounded by other left-facing particles.”

Granick and his team recognized this behavior as phase separation, which is characteristic of substances in equilibrium. When phase separation occurs, a mixture of two or more liquids separates into layers. Most have witnessed phase separation when shaking an oil vinaigrette salad dressing. After the dressing settles, the layer of oil settles on top of the layer of vinegar.

“They noticed phase separation in a system that was out of equilibrium,” Han said. “Sometimes they saw clear phase separation, but other times, they didn’t see phase separation at all.”

Long-time collaborators, Granick and Luijten pondered the mystery together. Luijten’s team repeated the experiment in computational simulations and found that only when the particles rotated with small radii did they phase separate. They pinpointed that the length of the radius was key.

The laws of thermodynamics define relationships between temperature and energy for all equilibrium systems. By knowing the system’s temperature, scientists can make predictions about its other properties. Luijten, Granick, and their teams found that in their non-equilibrium system the radius functioned similarly to temperature as a control parameter.

“We found that everything you control by temperature in equilibrium instead depends on radius in our system,” Luijten said. “It’s a general, fundamental statement that is a starting point for more exploration. It gives a bit of hope that we could develop general guidelines for non-equilibrium systems.”

Beckers Group Launches Sustainability Tool


Beckers Group recently launched a tool to quantify the sustainability of its coating products. The Beckers SI app is designed for architects, designers, building planners and steel makers: individuals or companies that are involved in the planning or construction of a building and aim to work with green materials without compromising on the design.

For different applications such as roofing or façade systems, the Beckers SI app shows users the collective impact of the materials used to make the coating as well as the value certain functions add to a construction. This enables them to make an educated decision and can also be rewarded by green building rating schemes such as LEED and BREAM.

“At Beckers, we strongly believe in providing solutions that meet today’s needs without compromising those of future ge­nerations. The Beckers SI app offers an easy way to find more sustainable coil coating materials and shows clearly that our coatings can do much more than decorate,” says Bernd Vogel, Chief Technology Officer of Beckers.

Nicklas Augustsson, Beckers’ Global Sustainability Director adds: “With the Beckers SI app we lead the way towards a more sustainable building design. We show which of our coatings are produced with sustainable raw materials and highlight functions that fully support green building trends.”

In other news, Spanish companies and research organizations have enabled research in graphene for development of industrial applications. The project GRAPHOS focuses activity on inks and coatings. The consortium...more about this

Troy maintains numerous field testing sites around the world for the evaluation of its preservatives. Troy field testing is conducted in order to ensure the highest levels of performance, optimized...more about this

Evonik Industries has combined its isophorone chemistry and epoxy curing agents business in the new Crosslinkers Business Line. The products are used in applications due to mechanical strength...more about this

And finally, BASF has provided insight into the digitalization of chemical research as well as its tools and applications. Experts spoke about how digitalization in R&D works in practice. With BASF’s digital...more about this

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How to Formulate without Wetting Agents

In many cases, wetting agents can be avoided in your waterborne formulation!

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