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Coatings Ingredients

The Raw Material Shortage: Impact on Acrylic Resins and Alternative Solutions

SpecialChem – Jul 29, 2021

TAGS:  Acrylic Coatings     Architectural Coatings    

Taako Brouwer, Managing Director at Vinavil SpA

Exclusive Interview with Leading Global Acrylic Resin Supplier

SpecialChem has interviewed Taako Brouwer, Managing Director at Vinavil SpA, to get his insights on the raw material shortage that is currently impacting the paints & coatings market and to learn about alternative technologies.

#1 - Thanks for agreeing to share your insights with us today. As a supplier of acrylic resins to coating formulators globally, I’m sure that Vinavil is feeling the pain of this raw material shortage first-hand.

T. Brouwer: Yes, you are absolutely right. We have been dealing with this shortage now already for the past few months. And of course, this is not the first time. But unlike previous shortages for acrylates, we have not seen any as dramatic as this one! To make things worse, this time it was coincided with a shortage of styrene – the other comonomer used to make acrylics resins. Both are very volatile right now.

The coatings formulators are really getting hit hard and can’t come even close to meeting production schedules for their acrylic-based formulations. This fact is forcing them to look for alternative solutions.

#2 - Can you tell us what is driving this raw material shortage?

T. Brouwer: This time, I believe, the key factor is the availability of propylene. During the pandemic the number of kilometers driven by cars has reduced dramatically, reducing the need to fuel and thus refineries were closed or ran at lower rates. Propylene is one of the side streams coming out of refineries leading to tight supply. The pandemic also contributed to re-directed routes for shipping containers making timely delivery of even the low supply of all chemicals more difficult.

Add on top of this, the winter storms in Texas, and here we are. This propylene shortage is not only impacting acrylates but all other propylene-based technologies.

#3 - So acrylic resins are depending 100% on propylene. What is your opinion on when this propylene shortage may be resolved?

T. Brouwer: Propylene supply is expected to remain an issue for the foreseeable future. There is just not enough supply to meet the growth in demand for propylene derivatives. The steam cracking process produces about twice as much ethylene as propylene. If you look at North America specifically, the low-cost shale gas means there is a huge supply of ethylene. Ethylene-based technology will remain more available than propylene-based technology.

#4 - Are there alternatives to acrylics that are based on ethylene, that formulators should consider?

T. Brouwer: Yes, there are alternatives. If you look at vinyl-VeoVa™ based systems, around 80% of the formulation is based on ethylene, which is readily available. This vinyl-VeoVa™ technology offered by Vinavil has been used in Europe for over fifty years and it is finally being adopted more within the United States over these past five years.

#5 - 50 years? Wow! And why was this vinyl-VeoVa™ technology not used in the United States before?

T. Brouwer: The United States is a acrylics dominated market and hence has historically been very much focused on colloid-free formulations. We learned this a little over five years ago when we tried to introduce the then colloid-stabilized VeoVa™ technology to the U.S. Now, we can offer a colloid-free vinyl-VeoVa™ solution to meet the requirements of this region.

#6 - And what about potential supply issues with this vinyl-VeoVa™ solution? If formulators choose to switch, are they going to face the same issue supply-demand problems?

T. Brouwer: Nowadays there are several producers of vinyl-ester monomers like VeoVa™. Having multiple producers available to choose from support our confidence to continue to invest in new emulsions based on this technology. And the other 80% of the polymer formulation is based on ethylene chemistry. So, if formulators want to avoid the supply volatility and have a more favorable and predictable cost position for the polymers used in their formulations, the vinyl VeoVa™-based system is much more desirable.

#7 - That’s good news for formulators. But, how does this Vinavil’s Veova™ technology compare in performance with acrylic-based systems?

T. Brouwer: Great question. And of course, we have done comparative performance analysis and the results are excellent – like for scrub resistance, alkali resistance and other desired properties at high PVC levels. Readers can access our previous webinar and case studies on Vinavil 4550 VeoVa™ copolymer water-based emulsion developed for the architectural paints market. They can also request samples to test it in their formulations.

How to formulate coatings with better-than-acrylic performance with water-based copolymer paints

SpecialChem: Thank you Taako. This is great information to share with coatings formulators!
T. Brouwer: You’re welcome SpecialChem

More About Vinavil

Vinavil is not only a market leader in Italy, but also an important player in the international polymer emulsions and solid polymers markets, with manufacturing plants in Italy, Egypt, the United States and Canada. VINAVIL offers a complete range of polyvinyl acetate and vinyl acetate ethylene copolymer emulsions, vinyl acrylic, styrene acrylic, pure acrylics and nanotechnology-based products for various industries.

View the full range of resin grades from Vinavil, analyze technical data of each product, get technical assistance or request samples.

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