How Dispersants Help Reduce Energy Requirements

Posted by Performance Coatings Team on 01/10/2023

As global energy consumption increases and prices continue to fluctuate based on multiple factors, reducing energy usage is as important as ever for paint and coatings formulators and applicators. Dispersants can play an important role in reducing energy consumption throughout the value chain.

One of the primary ways dispersants can do so is by delivering products that have a higher solids content or ideally are 100% active. Dispersants with fewer than 100% solids require a carrier, which adds weight and volume. The more concentrated (active) the dispersant is, the amount of carrier required is reduced. That results in less packaging material and less volume, and thus lower energy and costs to ship and a reduction in associated CO2 emissions.

Dispersants can make a major impact in the most energy-intensive step for formulators in the pigment dispersion process – milling. The right dispersants make pigments easier to disperse, which can reduce milling time from days to hours, greatly reducing energy consumption. Additionally, effective dispersants enable the production of millbases with higher pigment loadings, which results in more efficient production: more ink or paint can be generated from the millbase, using less energy per liter of finished product. Dispersants can also improve the compatibility of the millbase into multiple systems, which improves formulation flexibility and efficiency in manufacturing.

UV Curing

On the application side, UV coatings and inks are an environmentally friendly option because there is no energy-intensive thermal drying process. UV formulations cure with exposure to UV light, which requires much less energy, especially with LED UV curing systems. Dispersants are an important part of energy curable systems and can improve the cost and performance of UV coatings by increasing stability and lowering viscosity. Dispersants improve dispersion, pigment loading, particle stability, coloristic properties, gloss/matting, opacity/transparency in pigment concentrates and final inks and coatings.

For digital printers, UV ink additives also help deliver higher color strength inks and coatings to be able to pack as much color as possible into a cartridge, which reduces the energy needed for drying and means more product can fit into less space for reduced energy consumption in transporting products.

Coil coatings are another potential growth area for UV curable coatings technology and hence dispersants. Currently coil coatings are thermally cured, but with increasing energy costs the drivers to explore the switch to energy curable technologies are growing.

One-Coat Systems

One-coat and direct-to-metal (DTM) systems include the primer and paint in one, providing the protection of a primer with the aesthetics of a topcoat. As a two-in-one solution, they are designed to be applied in only one application. Multi-coat systems require two or more layers, which means more materials, more labor and more energy usage. Dispersants designed for these one-coat systems support superior adhesion and corrosion resistance, while also providing excellent protection from weather, chemicals and water.

Another area where dispersants play a role in reducing energy consumption is in heat reflective or cool coatings, primarily for roofing. Cool coatings limit heat absorption by reflecting the sun’s heat and then releasing it back into the atmosphere, enabling a more controlled environment inside the building with reduced HVAC needs. The right dispersant improves dispersion and stability of the white pigments and fillers used in cool coating formulations.

Used in greener technologies, like electric vehicles that rely on batteries, thermal conductive coatings on the internal separator help dissipate heat from the battery pack, which can influence the capacity and stability of a battery, and ultimately battery life. Dispersants help improve separator performance by delivering excellent dispersion of particles to yield optimal coating of separator films.

Pigment Treatment

Solsperse™ Hyperdispersants can be used in the manufacture of pigments to provide a surface treatment that can improve the pigment. The anchor group of the dispersant adsorbs on the pigment surface while the polymeric chain provides a high degree of steric stabilization. By combining the Solsperse-treated pigment with Solsperse in formulation, the quality (strength, brightness, dispersibility) improves over untreated pigments while decreasing milling time and energy consumption.

Contact us to learn more about how Lubrizol dispersants can help reduce energy requirements.


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