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Bio-Based Powder Coating in the Near Future

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by byersbushblog

One thing that is always certain is change. Even the powder coating industry is subject to change and it is coming. It is coming in the form of bio-based powder coating formula. While they are not yet available for use in shops or for sale on the commercial market, researchers are close to making them ready for the public.

Are Corn and Soybeans in the Future of Powder Coating

Powder coating formulas have been looking for ways to access the monomers in bio-based materials like corn and soybeans so they can formulate powder coating resins. Researchers have also been using sugar cane, flax from linseed oil, and palm trees to create the monomers. In order to make the monomers useful polyester resins, they need to have at least two reactive sites and they need to be able to function as carboxyl or hydroxyl.

Reasons Shifting to Bio-Based Powder Coating

There are several reasons why bio-based powder coatings will be helpful for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that powder coating products made from bio-materials will reduce the powder coating industry’s reliance on petroleum-based products which are now used throughout the powder coating process. Another useful reason that bio-based powder coatings would be useful is the price of petroleum. With the political unrest in the oil-producing nations, the prices of petroleum show their instability. If the industry were able to rely on products that can be farm-grown, then prices of powder coating materials would become stable.

Price and Production Challenges

At this point, it is rather expensive to produce bio-based powder coatings. This problems is what is prohibiting the industry from embracing the bio-based materials. In order to convert the raw material into a monomer and then to a polymer is too difficult a process and too expensive. Even though petroleum is pricy, it is less expensive to use than bio-based materials are at this time.

Infrastructure Needs Development

Eventually, bio-based materials will take over the industry, but the entire infrastructure of growing, reaping, and converting needs to be developed. Many feel that the process will harm the environment more than sticking with the petroleum status quo. This same problem is occurring in the ethanol industry as the cost of turning corn into ethanol outweighs the benefits. In order to bring the price of bio-based materials down, the industry needs to develop ways to make it cost efficient, which could involve soy instead of other plants.

Considering Other Industries

Before the powder coating industry can move to a plant-based material, the food industry has to be taken into account. Right now, corn is being used for several industries, including the food industry as well as the livestock industry for corn-fed beef. If corn is going to be used to create monomers for powder coating, then another industry will lose out, so the justification of using corn for powder coating is difficult to establish.

Attempts in History

In past years, there have been several attempts to develop plant-based monomers. In many cases, the monomers were successfully developed from materials like citric acid, isosorbide, and succinic acid. Whether the resins were made from one of these materials or from a combination of several, the resins did not last as long as the ones made from petroleum-based materials. The plant-based materials yellowed, had a low melting point, and they did not do well in extreme weather showing their deficiencies in resisting impact and in cheical resistance.

Even with the historic short comings, the powder coating industry will eventually turn to plant-based materials. Researchers are keyed in on finding a bio-based source that is affordable and will withstand the elements like the current petroleum-based materials do.

Byers Bush has been providing powder coating services to our customers in the South-Central Ontario region for four decades. If you have questions about the impact of powder coating on the environment, please contact us at 905-625-4334.

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