Sustainable architectural coatings technologies offer a lower impact on energy, natural resources, and/or the environment. Yet they often get confused with “greenwashed” unsustainable alternatives. This week’s graphic comes from Lux Research’s latest Sustainable Building Materials report (Client registration required) that, among other things, provides a modified Lux Innovation Grid to assess which emerging coating technologies are best positioned to combine sustainability and end-user value into a winning market reception. We survey some of the candidate technologies here.
First-generation low-VOC technologies – like waterborne acrylics and polyurethanes - have gone mainstream. But challenges remaining around gloss retention, durability, and processability have driven development of new technologies, such as waterborne alkyd coatings from Reichhold Coatings and waterborne epoxies from Cytec Industries. More established low-VOC technologies, such as 100% solid content powder coatings, have also received a shot in the arm with the development of polyurea coatings, whose tunable rheological properties make them more processable.
Cool roofs could become a future winner, thanks to thermally responsive optical coatings. Elastomeric cool-roof coatings are commercially available and produced at scale, landing them a spot among current winners even though their application remains limited to hot climates. However, their thermally responsive cousins, such as those from Creative Material Technologies and Thermeleon, turn from “white” to “black,” potentially expanding the geographic footprint of cool roofs.
Several new technologies enabling solar cell coatings to effectively be sprayed on buildings offer attractive processability and yield. But the 2% conversion efficiency of these solar paints is very low relative to conventional solar panels (13% to 15%), suggesting such coatings will remain a curiosity.
Coatings that enhance durability such, as those based on Bayhydrol polyols and isccynates from Bayer, provide a tangible benefit to the end user while the increased product life translates into reduced resource consumption. Self-healing coatings offer similar promise. But only a handful of start-ups, including Autonomic Materials, are pursuing the technology.
“Reduce, reuse, and recycle” technologies help minimize a coating’s environmental impact and its overall cost to end users, earning such technologies a spot in the Win-Win Quadrant. Examples include coatings with enhanced hiding power such as EVOQUE and ROPAQUE from Dow Chemical and Celcor from Arkema. Both reduce material consumption by as much as 20%.
Source: Lux Research report “Painting a Green Future: Opportunities in Sustainable Architectural Coatings.”