The Jundiaí plant is not affected by the recent sale of Akzo Nobel’s paper chemicals business to Kemira, a company spokesperson noted. Elsewhere in Latin America, AkzoNobel has three Expancel plants in Mexico, two in Colombia and one in Costa Rica.
Microspheres range in size from one micrometer to one millimeter in diameter, and can be manufactured from a wide variety of materials including glass, ceramics, fly ash, polymers and metallic/mineral substances like titanium dioxide. The use of microspheres in architectural coatings bring advantages including “lower costs, reduced density, shortened drying time, improved matting, less water absorption and lower emissions of VOC,” AkzoNobel indicated. A major cost reduction through the use of microspheres is a higher particle volume concentration with less binder.
3M, which produces ceramic microspheres for the coatings industry, also notes that the materials impart lower viscosity and improved flow, burnish resistance and hardness, gloss control, a barrier effect against corrosion; they also allow radiation curing for wood and powder coatings. 3M also makes glass bubble microspheres at sites including a factory near Sao Paulo, “for industrial applications where there is a need for fast drying, lightweight coatings, including floors and metals,” noted Eric Adair, the U.S. business manager for microspheres for 3M, based in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Among the many industrial uses for microspheres, the coatings industry uses them for reduced mixing time for automotive materials, and for Cool Roof treatments on buildings, Zaremba notes. The Cool Roof application reduces the heat absorbed by a rooftop, reducing the need for air conditioning and thus energy use, Zaremba points out.
While some microspheres are inert, others can form an encapsulation around an active ingredient, which can be released by a catalyst or event. “In the broadest sense there is a high potential for the use of microencapsulation for self-healing coatings,” said Anthony Schiavo, a research associate at Lux Research, based in Boston.
Nissan has been utilizing its microsphere-based Scratch Shield self-healing automotive coating since 2005, and expects to expand its usage globally, the company website suggests. “After being scratched, a car surface painted with Scratch Shield will have five times fewer scratches compared with a vehicle painted with a conventional clear coat,” the company noted.
Similarly, nanoparticles, which range in size from one nanometer to 100 nanometers, and are used in coatings as anti-fungal, anti-corrosion, anti-bacterial and catalytic agents. “Apart from zinc oxide, the magnesium and titanium oxide nanoparticles market is anticipated to witness significant growth,” reckoned analysts at London-based Future Market Insights.
Use of microspheres, particularly in microencapsulation, promises to extend the demand for the products in industrial applications of protective coatings. “Latin America, due to its booming oil and gas industries, offers significant prospect for the manufacturers establishing their manufacturing bases and sale offices in the region,” said analysts at Dallas-based MarketsandMarkets. Its recent report on microspheres projects a global value of the market for all applications at close to $6 billion by 2019.
Among other microsphere encapsulation coatings that are beginning to be adopted are damage-sensing coatings, Schiavo points out. “In the automotive industry, the use of carbon fiber frames and panels is rising, so the use of composite damage sensing coatings are a potential long term application,” he added. “The total protective coatings market is worth tens of billions of dollars, so the question is, over the next five years, what percent of that could be captured by micro-encapsulation? Is it one percent? We’re still an early stage,” he concluded.