Chemcials are widely used by industries to manufacture everyday consumer items. Being an essential component of citizens' daily life. The chemicals industry is one of the EU’s largest manufacturing sectors, representing more than 7% of industrial production, 1.1% of EU GDP (17% of global chemical sales) and directly employing more than 1.1 million people [ECHA, 2013].
Despite such positive economic data, and the introduction of the EU regulation on chemicals, the so called REACH regulation; Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, still industrial chemicals pose a potential impact on human health and environment. This is particularly true for the paints and coatings sector, which mostly uses petrochemical derivatives as raw materials. This puts workers in contact with harmful chemicals, such as flammable and corrosive acryclic acid, and leads to significant emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) which are hazardous to human health.
LIFE-BIOPAINT intended to demonstrate a safe, sustainable and innovative continuous process for producing novel bio-based paints manufactured with lower petrochemical input. This would avoid NMVOC and greenhouse gas emissions, eliminate waste, reduce energy consumption and deliver improvements in product quality in the wood coating sector. A pilot plant would be installed at IVM's premises in Parona, Italy and would produce up to 20 tonnes of bio-based paints. At full capacity, it would have the ability to produce 3 000 tonnes per year.
If successful, the project would support the implementation of REACH in the wood coating sector, as well as 7th EAP and EU 2020 targets for energy reduction.
The LIFE-BIOPAINT project reached its objective to demonstrate a safe, sustainable and innovative process for producing novel bio-based paints manufactured without petrochemicals, with benefits for human health and the environment.
IVM Chemicals installed a pilot plant at its premises in Parona, Italy, and produced up to 29 tonnes of bio-based paints. Based on the results obtained during the industrial validation process, the company confirmed the ability of the pilot plant to produce 3 000 tonnes of bio-based paint per year. The project team set up an innovative, highly sustainable and efficient continuous process for manufacturing bio-paints, which avoids the production of hazardous process waste and the use of toxic chemicals in the formulation of resins. They also demonstrated the avoidance of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, process waste, and energy consumption, while delivering improvements in product quality in the wood-coating sector.
The assessment of the environmental benefits at the industrial scale, comparing the BIOPAINT process to the conventional one, showed lower environment impacts. Most relevant results are the following:
- Energy consumption: conventional process 67 kWh/ton of paint vs BIOPAINT process 16.83 kWh/ton of paint (less 75%);
- Greenhouse gas emissions: conventional process 20.64 kg of CO2/ton of paint vs BIOPAINT process 5.17 kg of CO2/ton of paint (less 75%);
- VOCs emissions: conventional process 0.20 kg/ton of paint vs BIOPAINT process 0 kg/ton of paint (less 100%), resulting in 5.8 kg not emitted during the project and about 600 kg per year less emissions when at full capacity;
- Process waste: conventional process 0.04 ton of waste/ton of paint vs BIOPAINT 0.01 ton of waste/ton of paint (less 75%);
- According to project estimates, the process has great market uptake potential, given the increasing demand for more sustainable products for wood-coating applications.
Moreover, on the basis of the results of the industrial validation, the potential for commercialisation in the short-term was confirmed, since yield, quality of product, and environmental impact reduction meet the expectations of the end-users. The expected reduction of current costs related to bio-paint production can contribute to an increased competitiveness of the European wood-coating industry.
The project also confirmed that the BIOPAINT innovation complies with the EU REACH Regulation, thanks to the reduced use of toxic chemicals.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).