Although the economic downturn certainly has had a negative impact on the market for biocides, manufacturers are reporting that there is some recovery in sight.
The biocides market has been negatively impacted by a number of factors including oil prices, new housing starts, automotive sales and overall consumer confidence, according to Bernard Franc, business manager, biocides, Troy Corp. "When the building and construction industries are down, biocides used in paints, adhesives, wood stains, wallboard, and caulkings will be down as well," he said. "Conversely, as consumers look to reuse/recycle to conserve energy and resources, the demand for more effective biocides in water treatment and dry/wet state preservation increases."
"The number of new homes built and the number of renovations declined significantly, affecting paint demand," said Celso Magri, strategic marketing manager, Dow Microbial Control. "This subsequently impacted the biocides market. The extent of this impact is different among regions, but we already see positive developments, especially in some rapidly developing economies."
"We have seen a reduction in biocide consumption in line with the overall economic situation," agreed David Tierney, business director, Arch Chemicals, Inc. "This has varied between the different segments with, for example, automotive applications affected worst. Many companies have taken this as an opportunity to rationalize the number of biocide products used and optimize stock holding."
Lowering VOC levels continues to drive growth
The ongoing demand for low- and no-VOC coating systems continues to be the key driver for growth in the biocides market. Troy reported that it has recently expanded worldwide production of dry-film fungicides and wet-state preservatives to support projected volume growth in VOC-free products.
"Biocide suppliers are introducing solvent-free, water-based preservatives as alternatives to solvent-based 'Legacy' coatings to help coatings manufacturers worldwide meet lower VOC regulations," said David E. Faherty, vice president marketing, Troy Corp. "Troy offers a comprehensive line of zero- and low-VOC dry-film and 'in-can' preservative products that meet a wide variety of needs. Also, changes in polymer emulsion chemistries used in coatings have created the need for more robust biocides that provide a broader spectrum of protection."
According to Magri, the need for low- and zero-VOC coatings has driven the market for biocides in three ways. "Low- and zero-VOC systems are more susceptible to microbial contamination, and therefore the need for biocides is higher," Magri said. "Further, more sophisticated and well balanced biocidal formulations are needed. Another point is that much more care must be taken regarding plant hygiene. Dow Microbial Control has been focusing on low- and zero-VOC systems for several years, and we are well equipped with a full product line for the preservation of paints and technical expertise to help our customers with plant hygiene."
Complying with BPD
Regulations such as Europe's recently enacted Biocides Products Dir�ective (BPD) have presented a major challenge for biocides suppliers. As some actives are removed from the offerings because they will not meet the BPD's standards, suppliers have had to develop biocidal products that are approved for use in Europe as well as in North America and the rest of the world. Companies that were proactive in compiling the necessary data have fared well under the new standards.
"Troy is addressing the requirements of the European BDP for a number of key active ingredients," said Adrian Krygsman, director, product registration, Troy Corp. "Dedicated staff in our European and U.S. corporate offices coordinate compliance efforts under this Directive as well as other global regulatory initiatives that affect our business."
Arch Biocides reported that it has maintained a leadership position within the industry in respect of the BPD and fully supported all of the company's main actives through the review process established by this directive. "We are also pursuing a proactive dialogue with the authorities," said Tierney. "This effort has required extra resources to be allocated for both toxicology and regulatory activities. These demands are expected to continue well into the next decade. As a result of these regulations, biocide suppliers have had to focus on developing new formulations for existing actives and blends.
According to Magri, Dow Microbial Control has one of the largest portfolios of molecules notified under the European BPD. "Although it is challenging to compile the information in the format requested by the authorities, we are in a privileged position in the industry," said Magri. "We already had much of the information required for BPD as the data is needed to satisfy our own internal EH&S standards."
Despite all the challenges facing the biocides market, manufacturers continue to deliver innovative products to meet both environmental regulations and their customers' needs.
For in-can preservation, Arch has developed Proxel BZ Plus preservative, which combines two established actives as an alternative to formaldehyde and CMIT-based preservation systems.
Troy has recently launched a number of products to market, including Polyphase 2085 for low-VOC solvent-based wood stains and Mergal 753, an advanced, highly concentrated, environmentally friendly, wet-state preservative for paints and coatings that is VOC- and formaldehyde-free.
Dow has recently launched three products based on its LE (low emission) technology: Bioban IPBC 40 LE Antimicrobial; Bioban Ultra BIT 20 LE Antimicrobial; and Bioban BP 30 LE Antimicrobial. Additionally, Dow launched Rocima 200 in North America, which is a water-based dispersion for dry film protection, as a solvent-free alternative to its high performing Rozone 2000. In Europe, Dow launched Rocima 350 for dry film protection of VOC-free paints and Rocima 342, which is a good option for customers whose systems are not compatible with IPBC, according to the company. For in-can preservation, Dow recently developed formulations developed several new formulations that are VOC-free or low-VOC, with or without formaldehyde releasers.
Dow Chemical, Rohm and Haas form new organization
The recent acquisition of Rohm and Haas by The Dow Chemical Company was major news for the biocides market. The newly formed organization, Dow Microbial Control, is a combination of Rohm and Haas Biocides and Dow Biocides.
"We have set up a new structure to better address the needs of our customers on a local basis," said Celso Magri, strategic marketing manager, Dow Microbial Control. "We know that different regions have different paint systems, climate and regulations, which need to be locally addressed. Therefore, we have created Customer Application Centers (CACs) to address those local needs with the speed and expertise required. All of them have fully equipped laboratories, which operate independently but on the same quality standards. Each CAC is led by a regional commercial manager, with a full team of customer application specialists and technical sales representatives. Operational marketing is also done on a local level. Finally, our global research and development for Microbial Control operates from three excellence centers: Buffalo Grove, IL; Spring House, PA and Buchs, Switzerland. As a result, we are capable of delivering effective anti-microbial solutions to our customers that exactly match their local needs with unprecedented speed and quality."