The world’s largest coatings company is forging ahead technologically while at the same time going back to basics and aiming to ‘use something less to achieve something more’.
WOULD you like paint that can keep you cool, neutralises formaldehyde (the harmful pollutant found in carpeting and furniture), has zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can harvest energy and convert it into something useful?
The first two are already reality, and paint company Akzonobel – the multinational headquartered in the Netherlands that makes the Dulux range of paints – is working on the latter two at super speed.
Imagine: paint that actively contributes to the environment and human health! Pamela Phua, regional research, development and innovation director for Akzonobel South-East Asia and Pacific insists that this is the future of paint.
Phua has been with the company since 1998, and in her current role since 2005. She has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the National University of Singapore and is active in the industry, sitting on several paint committees and driving a lot of standards work in Singapore.
“One of the catch phrases in the paint industry is how do we improve indoor air quality,” she said at an interview last week at the Akzonobel office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
“In the old days, when we developed paint, it was just about not adding harmful or hazardous chemicals, like lead. That’s basic. Today, the innovation is about creating very smart green coatings which are not only safe but that will also do something more active. It must be actively removing or neutralising pollutants in indoor air.”
The company’s latest range, Dulux Pure does just that – it neutralises formaldehyde in furniture and carpets, and with a special latex it contains, converts the formaldehyde into water molecules. The active ingredient in the latex absorbs the formaldehyde molecule and cross links it so that it becomes something stable and innate, without activity, and a water molecule is displaced. The water molecule is evaporated in the form of water vapour, which is harmless to us.
“We’re proud that we can convert something harmful to harmless,” says Phua.
In outdoor paint, Akzonobel’s mainstay is Dulux Weathershield, a range that has been enhanced with a new feature called “Keep Cool”. It contains a solar reflectant that reflects away sunlight, thus reducing the amount of heat. It is a standard feature that will be built into all of their external paints, with about 80% of their outdoor paints already containing it.
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