Biocides, Fungicides and Algaecides Update

By Kerry Pianoforte | September 19, 2007

The key driver for biocides is the continuing move from solventborne to waterborne coatings.

Biocides are a critical component in paint formulations. Although biocides represent a relatively small percentage of the overall formulation, without the right biocide mix, microbes can compromise product performance, functionality and general aesthetics of the coating.

"Biocides can help alleviate the threat of microbes by protecting products throughout the life cycle, from manufacturing and storage to the actual application of the product," said Ken Littel, Dow Biocides global marketing manager for materials protection.

One of the main drivers for biocides, fungicides and algaecides continues to be the ever increasing demand for waterborne coatings.     

"All water-based coatings contain organic components which are vulnerable to microbial degradation," said Frank Sauer, head of technical marketing, business unit material protection products, Lanxess GmbH. "Without appropriate preservation in the wet state the paints and coatings become unusable, resulting in customer complaints. In addition, cured coatings are subject to microbiological attack from fungi, algae and lichens, particularly if the degree of atmospheric humidity is increased. Dry-film preservatives serve to prevent spoilage in and on the applied and cured paint film."

"Customer and formulator needs for low VOC and VOC-free products and systems make the use of greener biocides necessary and is fueling growth," said Udo Reigber, head of Americas for material protection products, the biocides business of Lanxess.

"A number of factors are contributing to growth–increased focus by consumers on environmentally friendly products, concern over air quality, desire for dry film antibacterial products and increased recognition of the benefits of broad spectrum products" said David E. Faherty, vice president, marketing for Troy Corp. "While many companies are beginning to promote environmental friendliness, Troy launched its first low VOC dispersion product prior to 2000. Since 2000, we have launched a complete product line of easy handling, zero VOC products that are better for the people who handle them and for the environment."

While the increased use of water-based coatings has precipitated a need for preservatives to ensure a long shelf-life, another factor is the growth in demand of hygienic surfaces. "Here antimicrobials such as biocides are used to generate an effect on a surface," said April Yeager, business line manager, Clariant.

Another key driver is the changing weather conditions globally. "Paint companies have to consider mildewcide in geographic areas where these were not of concern before," said Shailesh Shah, director, global marketing, coatings and constructions, Cognis Functional Products. "There is also a  trend towards making formulations that are more universal."

"There is growing awareness and demand from the consumer for antimicrobial benefits and features leading to an explosion of products with mold resistant and microbial properties," said Littel.

"There is increasing concern about mold and mildew, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," agreed Kumar Ramanathan, industry manager, business line coatings, Ciba Specialty Chemicals. According to Ramanathan other factors driving growth are growing concerns about exposure to infection in public facilities and alternatives to biocides that are being regulated out of use, such as trybuty tin (TBT) for antifouling applications and CCA for pressure treated wood.

As is the case with the entire coatings market, emerging regions such as China and India are growing at a faster rate, than the more mature markets of North America. "With rapid economic developments and improved living standards, the market for consumer products, like houses and cars, is growing," Littel said. "The use of biocides products help make paint formulations more durable, more environmentally-friendly and of better quality."

Environmental Regulations

The recently enacted Biocide Product Directive (BPD) in Europe has proven to be quite a challenge for biocides suppliers. "In some cases the new environmental regulations have caused us to eliminate several biocidal products in Europe," said Wave McFarland, marketing manager, performance chemicals, Buckman Laboratories. "This not only cuts into our business, it also eliminates products which have had a history of being used successfully and safely in several applications. Here in the U.S. biocides, which have worked well, are being eliminated due to the unfavorable economics associated with maintaining their EPA registrations. The net result is a reduction in the formulating options available to the paint and coatings industry."

"Regulations in the biocides business are a fact of life, and compliance is a must," said Ray Fahmy, manager, North America marketing, biocides, International Specialty Products (ISP).  "The BPD will have a different impact on the business than the North American regulations, which are well established and not currently in flux, as in Europe. In Europe, the impact will be a reduction in the number of actives that will make it through the BPD and, in turn, a reduction in the number of biocide blends offered by biocide formulators."

"Increasingly strict regulations in Europe and North America have made product stewardship increasingly important," said Reigber. "Additionally, the average consumer is becoming more aware of which companies offer environmentally friendly products and systems. Lanxess has focused on increasing the number of low VOC and VOC-free biocides and other products available for the paint and coatings market, and has increased staff to meet regulatory demands."

Stricter environmental regulations have reduced the number of active ingredients available and have resulted in some cases, in restrictions on how they are used by introducing new handling or protective equipment requirements, and lower application rates. "An impact that was perhaps not fully anticipated is the leveling of the playing field for all active ingredients," said Faherty. "Since the new regulatory schemes require comprehensive databases of supporting information, each active substance can not be evaluated using the same criteria. For example, the EPA completed a full database review of carbendazim (BCM), BIT and IPBC, approving their continued use under current regulatory requirements. EPA is now reviewing other actives and, in some cases, requiring significant data in order to determine if these actives meet the new regulatory standards."

"The registration requirements affect the entire industry and thus we have formed task forces with other biocide suppliers to keep the registration costs to a minimum to avoid extreme price increases for our customers," said Yeager.

Expanding Product Portfolios    

The challenge for biocide suppliers is to develop innovative products for their customers under the strict parameters of the BPD and other environmental regulations. Instead of focusing on developing entirely new products, which is cost prohibitive, the focus remains on developing synergistic blends of actives that are already registered and approved for use.

"New is a misnomer for biocides," said David Sutton, North American biocides marketing manager for coatings, latex and adhesives and sealants, Rohm and Haas. "The biocide industry has not been introducing new biocidally active ingredients, but has been registering new combinations and formulations of approved active ingredients."

"New biocidal chemistries are extremely difficult to develop and register due to the increasing complexity of compliance and regulatory requirements," said Littel. "Dow Biocides' primary focus has been to expand our product portfolio with additional chemistries. By offering our customers the broadest portfolio of biocides combined with primary registrations in multiple regions, and the ability to tailor solutions globally, we provide creative treatment solutions with greater flexibility and the ability to meet the needs of our customers."

Dow Biocides' technical team has developed a range of synergistic combinations of biocides–biocides that when used in an optimized combination ratio provides higher product performance than when used individually. "Combinations allow more flexibility than blends to adapt biocide use to specific individual formulations and needs," said Littel.

To deal with these challenges requires not just the proper products, but also applications expertise and regulatory know-how. "The latter is increasingly important with regard to regulations on VOC emissions, the influence of REACH or the consequence of the BPD," said Sauer. "Modern formulation techniques offer new opportunities to deal with this challenging situation and to provide future-proof solutions. As it is normally not possible to cover all these demands by only one active ingredient, it is often necessary to combine two or more active ingredients in order to profit from synergistic effects of those mixtures."

According to Shah, there is dramatic growth in the need for VOC-free biocide formulations. "Our adjuvant business has been working with actives producers to offer such formulations," he added. "There is also a tendency towards using broad spectrum blends. At the same time, people are seeking alternative ways to achieve better biocide efficacy. So, this is a dynamic field. We now offer two new VOC-free IPBC formulations in the NAFTA region. Registrations have not been very difficult as long as we are dealing with a pre-existing active."

Providing technical expertise is one way biocides suppliers are able to remain viable. "We do not see the new market conditions as a challenge, but as an opportunity," said Reigber.

"Troy has a history of making substantial investments in the active ingredients of our products," said Faherty. "We are in position to support a broad portfolio of active substances including IPBC, BCM, BIT, terbutryn and isoproturon."

"Expertise is now much more important in the industry. Companies that have invested in technology and regulatory expertise will benefit in the long run. This is also a benefit for the industry, consumers and the environment."

"ISP employs a full staff of experts to ensure compliance with Biocidal Product Regulations and North American regulations, including registrations," said Fahmy. "Participation in industry associations and meetings with the U.S. government are necessary to keep the lines of communication open."

"Buckman continues to work on expanding our biocide product line," said McFarland. "Our efforts include on-going evaluations of new chemistries as well as evaluations of biocide products that are already registered for uses other than paint and coatings. However, the regulatory cost of registering a product is significant and often renders a promising product uneconomical from a return on investment perspective."
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