“We are a big chemical company, and science and technology are really important to what we do,” said Graeme Armstrong, AkzoNobel’s chief innovation officer. “We want to let people know that we back up our work with good science and technology and connect with really smart people. Therefore, AkzoNobel hosted its first ever North America Innovation Conference to recognize and celebrate science and innovation in the coatings and chemicals industry. At the event, customers, academics, partners, students and employees got a glimpse of AkzoNobel’s ongoing research and a walk through of the company’s most recent innovations in the building and infrastructure, transportation, consumer goods and industrial markets.”
“Regarding the 2013 AkzoNobel North America Science Award, we have been honoring outstanding scientific contributions for more than 40 years and are privileged to recognize the work of Professor Matyjaszewski,” Armstrong continued. “As a company, we are deeply committed to creating a more sustainable future through scientific research and we will continue to support visionary scientists as they strive to advance our understanding in all fields of chemistry and materials science. The AkzoNobel Science Award was first bestowed in the Netherlands in 1970 and extended to Sweden in 1999. In order to reflect the increasingly global nature of the company, it was then extended to China in 2010, the UK in 2012 and North America in 2013.”
Professor Matyjaszewski is the J.C. Warner University Professor of Natural Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University‘s Mellon College of Science and the director of the Center for Macromolecular Engineering. He has been cited in scientific literature more than 50,000 times, making him one of the most cited chemists in the world. He is also one of the leading educators in the field of polymer chemistry, having mentored more than 200 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students.
“The inaugural 2013 North America Science Award from AkzoNobel is among the greatest recognition I have received,” said Matyjaszewski. “I feel very honored, but must admit that this distinction belongs not to me but to my entire group of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students at Carnegie Mellon, as well as many collaborators. Together we were able to prepare new advanced materials by means of controlled radical polymerization and more precisely, by atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). ATRP has been licensed to 14 corporations and polymers made by ATRP are already produced in US, Japan and Europe.”
According to Matyjaszewski, nanostructured functional materials prepared via macromolecular engineering could have a great impact on the coatings and paint industry. The macromolecular engineering is based on the detailed design, precise synthesis and processing of polymers with well-defined architecture to target specific materials properties.
“This process can lead to coatings with lower content of volatile organic compounds (VOC), or ultimately, to solventless coatings, that require polymers with significantly lower viscosity but precisely controlled and high functionality, that can be crosslinked on demand,” he said.
“Proper design of segmented copolymers can generate materials with nanostructured morphologies tougher and less brittle but also scratch resistant; they can also act as better pigment dispersants,” Matyjaszewski added. “Ultimately, this can lead to interactive - potentially self-healing coatings, or smart coatings that can report on potential material failure. It will be interesting to prepare coatings with a lower number of components, covalently incorporated into unique polymer architectures.”
These technical innovations are making there way out of the R&D labs and are being put to practical use by AkzoNobel. “An example of some of our latest technologies we have on the market is our Cool Chemistry coil coatings product range, which contains ceramic infrared reflective pigments,” said Armstrong. “This technology can make improvements in energy use by reflecting IR radiation, thusly keeping the surface and interior space of a building cooler.”
These special pigments are designed to reflect infrared energy while still absorbing visible light energy, thus appearing as the same color yet staying much cooler. When Cool Chemistry paints are used on metal roofing, the result is a sustainable building material that can lower air conditioning costs, reduce peak energy demand, and help to mitigate urban heat island effects.
“Another great example of an innovative product is our Intersleek range of marine foul release coatings,” Armstrong continued. ”The latest on the market is the highly innovative Intersleek 900, a unique patented fluoropolymer foul release coating which represents a significant improvement on the best silicone based systems. For the very first time, all vessels sailing faster than ten knots - and that includes scheduled ships, tankers, bulkers, general cargo ships and feeder containers - can now benefit. Intersleek 900´s exceptionally smooth, slippery, low friction surface prevents organisms attaching, saving our customers time and money at sea. Indeed, the bill for operating a VLCC vessel can be up to USD three million lower over a five-year period, saving 6,500 tons of fuel, and 21,000 tons of carbon emissions. The math is simple, with an up to nine percent improvement in fuel efficiency that ´s almost one free trip for every ten undertaken.”