Surfactants Update

By Bridget Klebaur, Associate Editor | March 1, 2013

Environmentally friendly technologies, meeting customer needs are among the key challenges that surfactants manufacturers are facing.

Surfactants play a key role in the paint and coatings industry and there are some important issues facing the surfactant market in 2013. Shruti Singhal, global marketing director, Ashland Specialty Ingredients, elaborated on these issues, and explained that stricter regulations are fueling the move to lower-VOC and APEO-free formulations and are driving the global change in demand for unique surfactants.
“In addition, customers want to combine functionality such as high solids, substrate wetting, better flow and leveling with performance attributes to reduce the total number of raw materials used,” Singhal explained. “This reduces the number of steps required to achieve desired formulations, thereby lowering overall costs.”

Scott Hanson, business manager, 3M Advanced Materials, explained that 3M’s business focus is on the fluorochemical surfactants market.

“The environmental challenges of this market segment are providing solutions for low or no VOC formulations. Paints and coatings formulations continue to move from solvent-based to water-based formulations, so fluorochemical surfactants must meet higher performance requirements in wetting and leveling,” Hanson said.

Simon Mawson, global director, Solvay Novecare, explained that sustainability, housing market, performance, raw material availability and cost are the primary issues facing the market today.

“Sustainability remains a top driver in the surfactants for coatings,” Mawson said. “Significant efforts are engaged to accelerate the conversion to APE-free and VOC-free products due to regional regulatory guidelines set to limit emissions for paint varnishes and refinishing products.”

Dr. Dieter Schaefer, Evonik Industries AG, found that the biggest challenge facing the coating market right now is the economy, specifically in Southern Europe.
“Besides these economic issues, regulatory requirements become more and more important for surfactants as well as for all other ingredients of coating. Topics like customer requests for APEO-free products or printing inks for food packaging that comply with the Swiss Ordinance on consumer goods limit the portfolio of surfactant chemistries that additive customers can choose from,” Schaefer said.

Salvatore J. Monte, president of Kenrich Petrochemicals Inc., explained that customer needs are a main priority for Kenrich.

“Our main driver is filling customer needs, solving their problems, which often arise from heightened performance requirements demanding reformulation. The performance requirements can come from just old fashioned ‘better, faster, stronger, longer, cheaper’ product property demands from the market, or from political shifts created by environmental, legislative and regulatory compliance that force reformulation.”

According to Dr. Izzy Colon, VP/general manager additives, Troy Corporation, the main issues facing the surfactants market are environmental and regulatory.
Colon explained that these issues remain a prominent factor in the development and marketing of surfactants, particularly with regards to compliance with REACH standards.

“The elimination of APE surfactants (alkyl phenol ethoxylate), which have been the workhorse of the industry for years, creates serious formulation issues. Some suppliers have invested in developing ‘green’ products in anticipation of these concerns.” Colon said.
Jeff Brown, global marketing director for additives, Dow Coating Materials, explained that there is an opportunity for surfactants to help solve performance challenges created by removing VOCs and materials of concern from paint formulations.

Silvia Ziebold, global marketing manager, industrial applications, BU industrial & consumer specialties, Clariant International Ltd., discussed the main issues in the surfactant market today.

“The main issues are the changing raw material prices which require Clariant to constantly monitor the market in order to reduce the purchasing risk,” Ziebold explained. “Raw materials such as alcohol, acids and ethylene oxide have seen a roller coaster ride in recent years. Also of increasing importance are the environmental needs of customers. This does not necessarily mean green chemistry, but customers want to understand the life cycle of a surfactant and how it impacts the sustainable nature of their formulation.”

Martin Wusik, global marketing director, coatings adhesives and sealants, Momentive Performance Materials Inc., explained that although economics are always important to the market, more and more people are becoming concerned with the overall system cost rather than simply the cost of each separate component.
The main regions that present the most opportunity for growth in the surfactants market appear to be mainly in China and Southeast Asia.

Dr. Schaefer explained that all emerging regions, especially China and India but also Brazil and Eastern Europe, offer exceptional opportunities for growth of modern coating systems with properties improved by surfactants.

Likewise, Brown said already developed markets are slowly but surely creating opportunities.

“Developed markets are slower growing but facing increased regulation and awareness of environmental and safety issues that are creating growth opportunities,” Brown said.

Mawson explained that growth is dependent on economic conditions in terms of region.

“Developing regions such as Asia Pacific, South America and Eastern Europe present the most growth opportunities. However, we do see good activity in North America as well,” Mawson said.

Singhal explained that although the most prominent growth is from emerging economies such as China and India, they are still affected negatively from the struggling economy.
Hanson, 3M Advanced Materials, agreed that although China and India present the more significant opportunities for growth, 3M also assesses and addresses the performance needs and requirements in all regions.

Market Trends

Key trends in the market are focusing on greener technologies, which includes VOC-free, APE-free, reduced heavy metal content, life cycle and carbon footprint analysis, according to Mawson, Solvay Novecare.
In addition to this, Singhal said that growth of the middle class in emerging markets has led to higher requirements for paint performance and quality.

Ziebold, Clariant International Ltd., said that the trends they are seeing are low VOC and low odor products without hazard warning labels.
“The need for low VOC, low odor or safe/non-toxic components are an increasing trend for paint and additive producer and relate to the megatrend sustainability which covers health, well-being and environmentalism. There is an increased ecological conscience,” Ziebold said.
Hanson also said that trends in the market are revolving around low/no VOC, greener solution and renewable feedstock.

“Essentially, from the cradle to grave, trends are toward renewable building blocks for coatings, including raw materials,” Hanson said.

Wusik, Momentive Performance Materials Inc. explained that due to more stringent regulations and VOC legislation, water-based and high solid technologies continue to be a growing trend.

Dr. Colon of Troy Corporation explained Troy’s focus on more multi-functional additives.

“Troy’s Z line of Performance Additives, many of which are multi-functional, is engineered specifically for low VOC, HAPs and APE-free coatings systems in which compliance and maximum coating performance are imperative,” Colon said.

Dr. Schaefer of Evonik Industries AG said that functional coatings as well as resource efficiency are two key trends in the industry.
Green Technologies

As greener technologies remain an important trend in the market, companies seek to meet the needs of customers who are more focused on “going green.”

Dow Coating Materials offers its Ecosurf SA, EH and LF series, which consists of surfactants that are readily biodegradable and APE-free.

According to Dr. Wayne Fan, research specialist, 3M Advanced Materials, 3M developed a two-prong approach to fulfilling the needs of customers looking to “go green,” first by developing new products exhibiting better environmental, health and safety profile and low hazard toxicity. Secondly, by manufacturing in 3M factories and thus disposing of the chemicals appropriately, 3M reduces chemical waste to the environment.
Clariant has developed a specific sustainability concept, EcoTain, to keep up with the needs of their customers.

“EcoTain represents a systemic approach to sustainable innovation by providing a tangible means of understanding the ecological, economic and social impact of Clariant’s products over the entire value chain. Within the framework of a four-step life cycle, EcoTain integrates the principals and ethics of sustainability into business activities according to measurable criteria,” said Ziebold.
According to Dr. Colon, Troy Corporation also manufactures a line of green additives.

“Troy manufactures its Z-Line of ‘green’ performance additives, which are engineered to help coatings manufacturers meet regulatory and consumer demand for highly sustainable end-use products. These additives help formulators reach the highest performance standards. Many of these additives have been on the market for several years, and offer proven performance,” Colon said.
According to Schaefer, Evonik Industries AG meets the needs of customers looking for “green” technologies by developing, producing and bringing to market products that improve the resource efficiency of the final coated goods.

Wusik explained that Momentive Performance Materials Inc. provides wetting flow and leveling agents that make it simpler for customers to develop coatings with lower VOC technologies without compromising performance.

New Products

To meet the needs of their customers, surfactants manufacturers are putting much emphasis on R&D and new product development. For example, Troy has released several new products recently.  Troysol Z372 is an addition to Troy’s Z Line of performance additives. It is a high performance universal mar and slip additive that also offers defoaming capability. Z372 is engineered for solvent, solvent-free and aqueous systems, and improves resistance properties, gloss, and surface appearance in most systems. Troy also released Troysol Z370, a highly effective universal wetting and mar and slip additive. Z370 is a siloxane co-polymer additive that can be used in solvent, water-reducible, and aqueous systems.
In addition to this, Troy released Troysol Z377 and Troysol 382. Troysol Z377 improves the flow and leveling of non-aqueous systems and enhances surface smoothness by stabilizing surface tension gradients upon application and during cure. Troysol 382 is a multifunctional, silicone-free wetting additive that promotes strong dynamic surface tension reduction in aqueous systems, resulting in excellent wetting and application characteristics.

Dispersogen PL 30 and Dispersogen PL 40 are two new product releases from Clariant. According to Ziebold, both products are novel polymeric dispersing agents for organic pigments and carbon blacks for use in waterborne pigment preperations with low viscosity.
3M recently released new anionic surfactants for waterborne paints and coatings applications and new fluorochemical polymers for paints, coatings additives and porous surface sealers, explained Hanson.

Dow Coating Materials launched Ecosurf LF series low foam, readily biodegradable, non ionic surfactants offering excellent wetting and dynamic surface tension reduction and cloud point defoaming for paint and coating applications.
Evonik Industries AG released TEGO Wet 240 and TEGO Twin 4100, substrate wetting and anti-cratering additives that enable coatings and printing inks to uniformly wet even low energy or contaminated substrates and make a perfect finish possible. Surface defects such as cratering and poor flow and leveling are minimized. The siloxane based multi-functional surfactant, TEGO Twin 4100, can be used for optimal substrate wetting and anti-cratering. TEGO Wet 240 is used for excellent substrate wetting of spray-applied waterborne coatings.

Solvay launched Rhodosurf 6530 as well as their Rhodoline series. Rhodosurf 6530, an APE-free and VOC-free surfactant, enables emulsion producers to convert away from APE-containing surfactants. Their Rhodoline series of low-foaming pigment and substrate wetting technologies were introduced to help formulators in conversion from APE-containing additives. Rhodoline WA 100 is a low-foaming, low-pour point, APE-free product specifically designed to replace APE and VOC-containing pigment wetting agents. Rhodoline WA 120 and Rhodoline WA 150 products provide excellent flow and leveling by lowering the surface tension in waterborne coatings, inks and adhesive formulations.

Ashland recently released its latest phosphate ester surfactants, which are APEO-free and geared toward low-VOC formulations. Dextrol OC-180HS PES enhances color development and long-term color stability while acting as a pigment-wetting agent and enhancing substrate wetting. Strodex FT-428 PES provides increased gloss and wetting along with enhanced freeze-thaw stability.
Kenrich Petrochemicals Inc. has produced many new hybrid organometallic coupling agents such as Ken-React CP-XP1 titanate, which wets out fillers such as CaCO3.
Future Research and Development

For the surfactant market, the trend seems to be on constant innovation and expanding products.

Ziebold said that Clariant’s focus lies in expanding its product range in the area of emulsion polymerization for architechtural paints and anti-corrosion additives for industrial coatings.

Brown explained the future for Dow Coating Materials would focus on advanced wetting additives for waterborne industrial applications.

Fan explained that for 3M, the future focus would be on innovative fluorochemical surfactants for interior and exterior architectural paint applications, which will deliver new high-performance benefits, as well as innovative fluorochemicals that deliver easy-clean properties to non-porous surfaces, including glass, plastic and other substrates.

Solvay will continue to expand their broad surfactant line in meeting customer’s sustainable product requirements in both emulsion polymerization and coatings formulations.

“Our primary focus is to service our customer’s ‘greener’ technology needs, while providing high-performance and cost-effective technologies,” Mawson said.
Singhal explained that Ashland Specialty Ingredients’ focus for the future is collaborating with customers and developing new surfactants that support the lower-VOC odor formulation needs of the market, while still maintaining high performance standards.
Momentive Performance Materials Inc. continues its focus on environmentally responsible formulations as well as bringing products that deliver broad formulation, according to Wusik.

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