Coatings World: What do you think are the primary issues (environmental, economic, raw material cost, etc.) facing the surfactants market today?
Evonik: One of the key issues facing the market for surfactants used in coatings today is the need to keep pace with changing environmental regulations. When new regulations appear or existing regulations are revised, new EH&S data may need to be generated for certain products. Depending upon the results obtained, the hazards of the surfactant may change, and this, in turn, may require surfactant manufacturers and formulators to change their Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
For example, as companies completed REACH registrations a few years ago, data became available that suggested that many common surfactants were severe eye and/or skin irritants or even skin sensitizers.
These previously unrecognized hazards then needed to be reported on SDS. In some cases, this has prompted the development of new surfactants that function similarly to the older surfactants but are not as irritating. Evonik Corporation did just that when it developed the EU Eco-label compliant grind aid surfactant CARBOWET GA-200.
Other issues which are driving the surfactants market are higher focus placed on solutions to increase production and cycle rates fostering improved efficiency, while reducing production costs. Industry consolidation has the side effect of strong product rationalization to reduce the number of surfactants stocked on the production floor which also directly translates to reduced net working capital costs, as less diversity of technology is purchased and there is more consideration to have few grades addressing a more diverse set of problems.
Oxiteno: Oxiteno is a leader in surfactant production in the Americas and closely monitors all the changes and developments in this market. Among the main issues, we have observed a growing concern about the environmental impact that products and processes can have.
There is growing interest and demand for products from renewable raw materials that have less of an environmental impact. In the coatings market, specifically, we can mention the demand for products with low VOC, low odor, APE-free, low toxicity solutions, among others. It’s essential to dedicate research and development of solutions that have these attributes.
We also have observed changes in regulatory and safety; we believe they have contributed to the advancement of formulations in all applications and the development of surfactants that add value to the process and the final product. Consumer trends positively influence the surfactant and coatings industry. In architectural paints, for example, we find that consumers are increasingly demanding in their choices. There’s a greater demand for better quality products, with superior performance – which means that they are durable, offer good coverage and are easy to apply.
Siltech: I think the recent push towards plant-based surfactants driven by consumer markets is the biggest game-changer in the surfactants market.
Troy: Challenges create opportunities. Some of the most impactful innovations in our industry arise when suppliers and formulators are faced with market or regulatory pressures. Environmental pressures led to the development of Troy’s Z-line of performance additives, which is being expanded to accommodate the needs of formulators to create ‘green’ coatings systems. Multifunctional additives that perform the functions of several additives in one, continue to be developed to assist formulators to reach performance goals as well as address economic pressures and regulatory requirements.
CW: What regions present the most opportunity for growth?
Evonik: Growth opportunities for surfactants exist in regions of the world that are increasing the use and quality of waterborne coatings. Such a growth spurt was seen in China a few years ago when it embarked upon a large scale solventborne-to-waterborne conversion in the container coatings market. In Brazil, we would expect to see an increase in the amount and variety of surfactants used in architectural coatings, as paint manufacturers develop new paints that comply with the Industry-Specific Quality Program (PSQ) requirements. While certain types of surfactants can be used to improve the hiding power and scrub resistance of paints, others can enable the lowering of VOCs in coatings.
For example, Evonik Corporation has developed a series of CARBOWET GA grind aid surfactants that are particularly useful in providing the efficient wetting and particle stabilization in mill bases needed to achieve good opacity while maintaining excellent scrub resistance. The company has also developed surfactant-based co-dispersants like ZETASPERSE 179 and 182 that can boost the color strength and stability of pigment dispersions as well as improve the colorant acceptance if added to the base paint. Coalescing surfactants like DYNOL 360, SURFYNOL AD01 and SURFYNOL 107 L can provide low foam dynamic wetting at relatively low use levels (<1 wt. percent) and also contribute to film coalescence; when these unique surfactants are used, the amount of VOC-containing coalescing solvent in the formulation can be reduced and a lower VOC paint is the result.
Oxiteno: It’s part of our strategic plan to strengthen our presence in other regions of the world, besides Brazil. In 2018, we opened our new alkoxylation plant in Pasadena, Texas. The new unit features state-of-the-art alkoxylation technology, which ensures safety and environmental performance. Its strategic location near the Gulf of Mexico allows easy access to key raw materials, logistics resources, and skilled labor. The plant produces a wide range of special nonionic and alkoxylated surfactants to serve major markets, such as coatings.
In addition to the new plant, in the USA we also have a research and development center, local office and pilot plant, operating together to serve a highly demanding and competitive market. We can also point to Mexico, where we have three industrial units, research, and development center and we are the only coalescent producer. In this region, we will continue to invest to further expand production. Brazil remains an extremely important market for us.
We have a robust structure in the country: our headquarters, our main research, and development center and six industrial units. In addition to the infrastructure in these regions, Oxiteno has a team of experts working in sales, R&D, marketing and technical assistance. We work closely with customers to find competitive, high-performance alternatives for formulations. We offer the knowledge, flexibility, speed, and safety that formulators need.
Siltech: Recent political trade issues will change the status quo, but China will likely remain the growth driver.
Troy: South Asia and Middle East/Africa represent opportunities for growth as the architectural coatings markets in these regions mature and grow at a rapid pace. A demand for higher quality paints in these regions means a greater need for performance additives to enhance surface properties.
CW: What are the key trends?
Evonik: Surfactants with reduced environmental risks/concerns, Fostering Process Efficiency, Broader Functional Landscape.
Oxiteno: We are constantly following the trends in the coatings industry. We see that consumers are increasingly demanding in their choice of architectural paints, for example. There is greater demand for better quality products, with superior performance. Another very important trend is the growing demand for sustainable products. In coatings, we can point to the demand for low VOC, low odor, APE-free, low toxicity solutions, among others. It is also worth mentioning the pursuit of energy efficiency in the industry, avoiding waste in the use of electricity and so making production aligned with environmental concerns. We are always researching and developing our solutions for a range of applications. We work to provide the market high-performance, flexible, rapidly deployed alternatives that have a less environmental impact and are in tune with trends. In addition, Oxiteno is recognized for its operational excellence, with stringent production controls that follow international standards. We always respect local testing laws and standards. We test our solutions against these standards to meet safety requirements and ensure the best performance.
Siltech: For silicone surfactants, the EU market is pushing for silicones which have extremely low levels of the volatile silicones remaining. Siltech products are readily compliant with this need.
Troy: We continue to see solid growth in high-performance additives that have multifunctional capabilities and growing demand for additives that help customers meet regulatory requirements.
CW: How is your company meeting the needs of customers who are looking for “greener” technologies?
Oxiteno: Oxiteno is always attentive to industry trends and needs. Sustainability has been one of our product development guidelines for the most diverse applications in coatings. Our solutions have attributes aligned with sustainability measures, such as being low odor, low VOC, low toxicity, APE- free (ethoxylated alkylphenol free products) and HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment) friendly.
Siltech: The very low use level of silicone surfactants and the unique surface tension properties can confer silicone-like properties onto organic materials. We have developed several products along these lines to allow more sustainable surfactants or other materials to be used in new ways and niches.
Troy: Troy is continually expanding its Z-line of performance additives, which are developed specifically for ‘green’ systems. These Z-line additives are free of VOC, HAPs, and APEO, and offer performance at low use levels, making them ideal for modern aqueous formulations. An example is advanced Troysol ZLAC, a ‘green,’ multifunctional, silicone-free additive that improves substrate wetting, flow and leveling, adhesion, gloss, and color uniformity in aqueous coatings and adhesives. The highly effective additive offers enhanced control of coating surface properties and the elimination of surface defects, such as crawling and cratering. Troysol ZLAC can help formulators achieve enhanced performance in many different applications, and offers performance at low use levels for minimized cost-in-use.
The Troysperse ZWD series of high-performance dispersants is engineered for formulators requiring excellent color development capabilities, high pigment loadings, and fast dispersion time. The advanced additives offer performance at very low use levels and incorporate multifunctionality. Like other Troy Z-line additives, the ZWD series is ideal for ‘green’ aqueous systems.
CW: What new products have your company recently launched? What are their applications?
Oxiteno: The OXITIVE additive line: APE-free multifunctional surfactants delivering high value in pigment wetting for water-based architectural paints and tintometric systems, ensuring high levels of stability, easeof dispersion and excellent color development with short mixing time. Oxitive products can also be used in latex manufacturing during the polymerization process, acting as nonionic secondary surfactants, ensuring high electrolyte stability in the final product.
The OXIMULSION emulsifier line: APE-Free primary surfactants for emulsion polymerization. An example is OXIMULSION B1000, a highly efficient surfactant for acrylic and styrene-acrylic latexes. Due to its unique characteristic, it can be used as a single surfactant, simplifying the process and formulation, as well as ensuring high performance and stability for the final paint.
In this line we also highlight OXIMULSION 9800 and OXIMULSION 9900, emulsifiers developed for alkyd resins, generating oil-in-water emulsions through the phase inversion technique. Through this technology is possible to develop water-based synthetic enamel formulations with very low VOC content and performance equivalent to traditional solvent-based products, dramatically reducing solvent emissions into the environment and end-consumer exposure.
Siltech: Our focus in coatings is on reactive silicones that change the mechanical, tactile or surface properties of the final coating. Most recently we have combined UV cured acrylate chemistry with condensation reactive groups for secondary cure characteristics.
Troy: Troykyd® D209W air release additive prevents micro- and macro-foam in both the process and application of a broad range of coating systems. The product provides high efficacy with good compatibility, significantly reducing or eliminating the occurrence of film defects.
Troykyd® D767 is a mineral oil-free, silicone-free defoamer that provides outstanding air release in aqueous systems such as admixtures, polymers, adhesives, inks, and natural rubber. The defoaming additive is effective at low concentrations, often below 0.1 percent, and over a wide range of pH and temperature. Troykyd® D767 offers excellent system compatibility, which makes the new defoamer especially effective in low viscosity systems. This compatibility also makes Troykyd® D767 an excellent choice for gloss coating systems.
CW: What areas are your R&D efforts focusing on forthe future?
Evonik: Evonik Corporation is currently focusing its R&D efforts on developing new additives, including surfactants, that will help customers formulate these more environmentally-friendly and higher performing coatings. We continue to identify new ways of using raw materials with improved EH&S profiles/reduced risk factors by having fewer substances of concern to achieve effects that were previously only thought obtainable with more harmful additives, and we assist our customers in replacing chemicals like alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) with safer and more effective alternatives.
Oxiteno: With over 20 years’ experience in the coatings market Oxiteno is recognized as a major partner in the development of high-performance products that add competitiveness to customer formulations. We are experts in chemistry and we study the market and its trends. This enables us to develop solutions for the most diverse applications. Our portfolio is always expanding and evolving. We are constantly researching and developing new solutions that serve our customers’ challenges in various applications. Innovation permeates every area of the company, going beyond the scope of product and service development. We work to deliver high-performance, flexible, fast-implementation alternatives for the market that have less social and environmental impacts and are in tune with macro trends.
Troy: Troy is a company built on innovation, and is committed to the research and development of the latest technologies to enable customers to lead in the marketplace. Troy’s Z-line of zero-VOC, APEO-free additives are increasingly important, and will remain the focus of R&D efforts.
Multifunctional additives are also an important focus of our efforts. Multifunctional additives that perform the function of numerous additives are of interest to customers, as they simplify the formulation process, contribute less material and expense to formulations, and reduce inventory.