A new research project at the Faculty of Applied Natural Sciences [https://www.th-koeln.de/angewandte-naturwissenschaften/] in the Technical University of Cologne is investigating how the properties of aqueous polymer dispersions can be further improved. These are used as liquid raw materials in paints and coatings, adhesives and other everyday products. The project entitled “Applied Research on Disperse Colloidal Polymers” (DisCoPol for short) is being funded over a period of three years by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The total project volume is around EUR 600000 (funding code: 13FH142PX6).
Covestro is one of the two industrial cooperation partners of the project. The company is the world’s leading supplier of polyurethane dispersions (PUDs) and, also holds a leading position in research and development and in process technologies.
The trend: aqueous coatings and adhesives
“Paint and adhesive manufacturers all over the world are increasingly opting to replace solvent-based products with more sustainable aqueous systems such as PUDs, provided they have the same excellent properties,” says Michael Friede, global head of the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties segment at Covestro. “Our comprehensive range opens up many applications in a wide variety of industries. This will create growth opportunities and strengthen the competitiveness of our customers.”
Dr. Jan Weikard, expert for polyurethane dispersions at Covestro, hopes that the new research cooperation will provide important impetus for the further development of these dispersions: “The goals of the project are the optimization of manufacturing processes, an improved understanding of structure-property relationships and the development of new applications for the dispersions. We focus on application-oriented research of PUDs and rapid market launch of new products to meet increasing requirements.”
Applications in a wide range of industries
Polyurethane dispersions consist primarily of water and a polyurethane finely dispersed in it. They are mostly used as film formers or binders in paints for the initial and refinishing of automobiles, in wood and furniture paints and robust floor coatings, as well as in textile coatings and glass fibre coatings. Adhesives formulated with PUDs from the Dispercoll® U range are used in the production of furniture and shoes as well as in the automotive industry.
It was not until the end of 2017 that Covestro commissioned new production facilities for PUDs at its European sites in Dormagen and Barcelona. This and other capacity increases, especially in China, will enable the company to meet the growing global demand from the coatings and adhesives industry.
With 2018 sales of EUR 14.6 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16800 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2018.