Industrial Research Ltd. (IRL), the only Crown Research Institute mandated to support New Zealand industry, and paint manufacturer Resene have joined together on a project to develop waterborne paints based on resins made from sustainable raw materials. Dr. Simon Hinkley is the lead chemist on the collaboration. A year ago, the proposal won Resene $1 million in R&D services in IRL’s “What’s Your Problem New Zealand?” competition.
IRL scientists and Resene technical staff have created a novel-binding ingredient using a polymer derived from a readily available and highly renewable feedstock produced in New Zealand. They will soon be applying for a patent.
“We have generated a novel, derivatized polymer mixture that not only confers properties crucial for a paint binder, but also allows laterreactivity in the paint promoting hardening, film forming and other desirable characteristics,” said Hinkley.
“We are creating a new ingredient that must utilize simple and readily scaled processes, so it can’t involve complex or costly chemistry,” Hinkley said. “Existing technologies have been around for a long time and are refined to a high level. Ours has to compete with that.”
Hinkley said there are still significant hurdles to overcome before production and commercialization are underway. These include two critical technical challenges to ensure the material meets the specifications for a paint binder ingredient.
“We also have to make sure our ingredient is compatible with all the other things that go into your average pot of paint, of which there are potentially thousands of individual materials in the finished product,” Hinkley said. “The binder must also be stable in the pot and on the wall, cost effective to produce and economic to export.”
In 2011, Resene plans to launch a new eco range of paints that use the new ingredient, with the first products expected to be for walls and ceilings.
While the original IRL/Resene collaboration was an 18-month-long project, the partnership will continue with the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology providing funding for a $2.6 million dollar project that will run over the next four years. That project, co-funded by Resene, will allow the team to develop its technology to produce high-performance paints.