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Sustainability is an increasingly important aspect when it comes to developing new products. In addition to the properties and effects stemming from the product, issues relating to environmental impact, the underlying chemical and energy consumption also tend to play an important role.
Many of the wax additives available on the market are manufactured using raw materials obtained from oil or gas. The range goes from traditional polyethylene (high density) waxes to increase the matt effect or improve scratch resistance, to polypropylene or PTFE waxes to modify slip resistance of a surface. These types of waxes exhibit rather high effectiveness, thus providing benefits to coatings according to the particular application. However, taking into account aspects of sustainability, such as the use of raw materials based on biomaterials, these waxes should be subject to a critical review.
Why is the change necessary?
An obvious and important factor is that oil is a finite raw material. This means that its availability will decrease in the coming centuries and there is a profound need to discover, test and ultimately use new alternative raw materials.
Another important factor is climate change. There appears to be no end in sight for climate change and our actions have a great effect on it. Each tonne of CO2 that we are able to save helps to meet the Paris Accords of 2015 to keep global warming under 1.5°C.
Aware of this situation, governments are taking measures to fight climate change, which in turn impact on the use of fossil raw materials. Example measures are the implementation of taxes on carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) or the creation of certificates that permit the consumer to emit a certain amount of CO2.
However, the economic effect is only one side of the story. The ecological effect is much more important in order to reduce the use of oil-based products.
Other aspects of sustainability relate to end-of-life options for products. We are surrounded by plastic in our daily lives, which in turn causes a lot of waste. Furthermore, this waste requires a lot of time to break down in the environment: for example, in the case of plastic bags made from PE, it takes around 500 years. With this in mind, end-of-life options such as biodegradability, where the plastic is broken down in shorter time periods by microorganisms such as bacteria and mould, are increasingly important. Nevertheless, plastic is not always as obvious in our lives as it is in the case of plastic bags. Many wax additives are based on synthetic raw materials, meaning that these additives, in the same way as plastics, are affected by the issue of biodegradability. Consequently, use of a greater amount of biodegradable biomaterials can help to pave the way for a more sustainable future.
BYK’s vision for a more sustainable future
Launched on the market in 2011, CERAFLOUR 1000 is an excellent example of an additive with improved sustainability. It has the specific properties of traditional additives manufactured with natural or synthetic waxes, but it is based on a completely biodegradable bio-based polymer. In 2021, BYK increased its portfolio with two new additives based on the same raw material, but with different distributions of particle size: CERAFLOUR 1001 and CERAFLOUR 1002.
The three additives have a biological content higher than 97% and are completely biodegradable. In addition, these polymers based on biomaterials make a positive contribution to the current debate on microplastics and conservation of aquatic life.
Figure 1: General outline of the extraction of the raw materials for the polymers in the CERAFLOUR 1000 product series
The polymers in the CERAFLOUR 1000 series are synthesised with the help of microorganisms which are fed with carbohydrates. Thus, we manufacture the bio-based polymer via a process of fermentation. In the following steps, the polymer is separated from the microorganism and purified. The final micronisation step results in polymers that can be used for different coating applications.
With CERAFLOUR 1001, BYK offers an additive with a finer distribution of particle size than CERAFLOUR 1000, thus achieving maximum transparency and, at the same time, reducing gloss. Furthermore, with CERAFLOUR 1002 we have introduced an additive with a larger particle size to create a highly transparent surface texture that, at the same time, provides a better matting effect. The spherical structure of the polymers, which form agglomerates, can be seen in the SEM (scanning electron microscope) images. The particle size of CERAFLOUR 1000 sits between that of the other products.
Figure 2: Comparative SEM images of CERAFLOUR 1001 and CERAFLOUR 1002
A wide field of application
The additives were tested in different types of applications, starting with aqueous systems, 100% UV systems and traditional solvent-based systems. The additives displayed excellent compatibility and performance in all of these systems. We recommend their use in wood and furniture varnishes, printing inks and industrial coatings.
CERAFLOUR 1001 exhibits very good matting properties. Particularly in higher doses, CERAFLOUR 1001 exhibits low haze values in comparison with other PE waxes (see figure 3).
Figure 3: Gloss and haze values with the addition of CERAFLOUR-1000 vs. a HDPE wax in a system for wood based on a pure acrylic.
In laboratory tests, the additives from the CERAFLOUR 1000 family confer a synergistic effect if they are combined with common PE waxes, therefore improving resistance to scratching and coating abrasion. Only a small addition – 0.5% of the total formulation – of this additive is sufficient to create good scratch resistance on the coating surface. In addition, the three additives in the series exhibit synergistic effects with silica-based matting agents.
Figure 4: Improvement of anti-scratch properties in comparison with a HDPE wax (CERAFLOUR-927N).
Furthermore, the three products offer excellent haptic properties and bestow the surface with a “soft feel”. This is especially true in the case of the smaller particle sizes.
The addition of polymers from the CERAFLOUR 1000 series also helps to increase the amount of renewable carbon in a formulation, in order to meet market requirements of finding more sustainable solutions.
Looking towards the future: change is needed
Sustainability is a complex issue with many aspects to consider. It is not just the source of the raw material that can be substituted for a more environmentally friendly solution. There are other parameters, such as lower film formation temperatures, a lower number of solvents or coalescents, faster curing speed or better degradability. In other words: there are many opportunities for reducing CO2.
The CERAFLOUR 1000 family is another excellent step towards BYK’s objective of being more sustainable throughout the entire supply chain and offering sustainable solutions to manufacturers of coatings.
Join us to create a more sustainable future!