Coatings manufacturer Teknos conducts wide-ranging research to find industrial side streams that can be utilized as raw materials in coatings manufacturing.
“At present we are researching the use of secondary raw materials in many product groups. Bio-based raw materials are already used in various products. ” says Laura Kosonen, Teknos’ Product Manager .
The secondary raw materials that Teknos is researching include both products at the end of their life cycle and industrial side streams from which raw material for coatings can be separated. The principle of a circular economy is simple: one man's waste is another man's raw material. Consequently, Teknos’ partners are key players as raw material producers.
Kosonen wrote her master’s thesis at Aalto University on secondary and bio-based raw materials. The work was commissioned by Teknos. Prior to her current position she worked at Teknos as an R&D Environment Specialist.
In her thesis, Kosonen studied and tested different industrial side streams as secondary raw materials, for example the use of calcinate (iron oxide) as red pigment in coatings. She also explored using glass powder and gypsum as coatings fillers. After this, Teknos has conducted further research on utilizing glass powder as a raw material for industrial coatings products.
“In our global R&D Inno-team we studied for example the use of recycled grinded rubber powder in flexible coatings and anti-skids,” says Kosonen. “The rubber powder originated from recycled car tires.”
Research is also ongoing to minimize and better utilize the waste and side streams from Teknos own production that are currently being disposed.
”We are jointly exploring ways with our partner to enhance the material efficiency of our production processes.”
At Teknos, material efficiency is already enhanced for example by saving the surplus of a manufacturing batch and using it in production of the following batch, instead of it’s disposal.
At present Teknos takes part in multiple innovation projects e.g. with universities for example in finding ways to utilize pulp. Teknos participated in the ReCompose-project, facilitated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT and Finnish Environment Institute, in which Teknos’ powder coating waste was studied as raw material for new composite material solutions.
Ready-made models of circular economy cannot be directly applied to the coatings industry, explains Kosonen. In material selection, for example, you need to be very careful.
“Coating is a high-technology product and the materials used in it must fulfil strict requirements for technical properties as well as content of hazardous chemicals. Consequently, it is rarely possible to utilize side streams as such. The industry does not yet have specialized resources for processing interesting secondary raw materials. There is a market for an actor that would advance the processing of chemical industry side streams.”
Kosonen also mentions complying with the EU chemical legislation as a challenge at times, when it comes to secondary raw materials.
The legislation demands manufacturers and importers to know and to report the exact composition of their products and to minimize the concentration of hazardous chemicals in them. Safe use of products must also be communicated throughout the whole supply chain.
"To be able to comply requires that we know the exact composition of all raw materials used in our products, that are already complicated mixtures themselves, says Kosonen.