Nanomaterials, such as graphene, nanoparticles, or carbon nanotubes, are often hailed as some of the greatest product developments of our times. But when it comes to their impact on the paint and coatings market, is anybody actually using them?

Well, according to a review conducted by the German Federal Environment Agency a wide range of nanomaterials are being used to improve coatings’ performance. For example:

·       Colour Effects. Nanoparticles of tungsten oxide have been added to automobile paint to add colour effects, such as electrochromic or photochromic properties.

·       Self-cleaning paint has been made by adding nanosilica, colloidal silica, or titanium dioxide nanoparticles.

·       Paint colour brilliance and colour effect, as well as shading and specific colours, have been boosted by applying nanoparticles of carbon black, zinc oxide, silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide, or ferric oxide.

·       Scratch resistance. Other oxide nanoparticles have been used as raw materials in coatings to improve scratch resistance.

·       Increased elasticity and flow. Further nanoparticles, such as amorphous silica, are being added to coatings to optimize flow.

·       Electroconductivity. Spray painting performance has been improved by using fullerenes or carbon nanotubes to allow for electro-static enhanced spraying.

·       Antimicrobial properties. Inclusion of nanoparticles of silver, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide in coatings have been proven to kill pathogens on contact.

·       Light protection. Various nanoproducts, such as nanoscale oxides, can provide added protection for coatings from UV light, or can give a coating an infrared reflective or absorbative property.

·       Anti-corrosion properties. Nanoclays or titanium dioxide nanoparticles can be used to coat aluminium or zinc as a means to prevent against rusting.

·       Fire retardant. Nanoparticles of silicon dioxide can have a fire retardant effect if coated onto wood.  

With such a large range of nanoproducts adding a variety of useful functions, it is no wonder why chemical industry giants such as AkzoNobel, Sherwin-Williams, PPG, BASF, and Axalta are investing heavily in nanotechnology research and employing nanomaterials in their coatings.

However, smaller players are also taking advantage of the nanotechnology revolution in the coatings industry to find niche markets and patented methods to profitably apply nanomaterials to paint.

One such company, is the Prague-based AG CHEMI GROUP (who host this web page), who have developed a portfolio of nanomaterials for use in paints as well as a variety of patented processes for improving a coating’s properties.

Lev Lyapeikov, the company’s product development manager, describes the company’s application of nanomaterials as adding, “… new properties to resins and paints without adversely affecting the physico-chemical base of the material, which distinguishes our solution from conventional market offerings. For example, the traditional use of black carbon black reduces the mechanical strength of polymers and limits the entire colour gamut to a single colour solution, but not with our process.”

Additionally, “The technology developed by our company allows us to work with a wide range of nanomaterials of various concentrations. For example, we can create a solution with a concentration of 0.015% nanomaterials that has excellent functional properties, or we can produce a composition containing up to 10% nanomaterials with a specific surface area of ​​up to 1000 m2/gram.”

So, it seems, that not only are nanomaterials frequently used in paints and coatings, but they have become a stalwart raw material for the industry. Nanoparticles now play a role in not only cutting-edge coatings for the extreme temperature required by satellites, nor are they just for top secret coverings, such as radar-prohibiting paint for military hardware. Today, nanomaterials are an everyday additive for paints and varnishes which improve the properties of the coatings that we all use.

Without nanosized raw materials, paints would crack quicker, be less scratch-resistant, be more see-through, have lower adhesion, be less durable, suffer more from the extremes of hot, and cold, and direct sunlight. Simply put, without nanomaterials, paints would fade faster, and that would lead to a duller, greyer world.

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