Green Chemistry for Surface Coatings, Inks and Adhesives: Sustainable Applications
Published:06 Jun 2019
Special Collection: 2019 ebook collection , ECCC Environmental eBooks 1968-2022Series: Green Chemistry
Green Chemistry for Surface Coatings, Inks and Adhesives: Sustainable Applications, ed. R. Höfer, A. S. Matharu, and Z. Zhang, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2019, pp. P007-P009.
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The role of green and sustainable chemistry in coatings, inks and adhesives should not be underestimated, amidst a series of inter-related megatrends reliant on a need for new and more materials. If the source and production of such materials remain unchallenged through the continued adoption of status quo chemistry, then this will have serious consequences for a global sustainable 21st Century.
The chemical and allied industries are key players in global wealth, industrialization and urbanisation. The global chemical industry is expected to reach EUR 6.4 trillion by 2050, almost twice its value in 2015. The increasing pace of chemical innovation and new substances registered with the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) is remarkable. Approximately one million substances have been registered on CAS 1965–2015 at moderate to slight exponential growth equating to on average one new substance being registered every 2.5 minutes. The last two years has seen registration of a staggering 30 million chemicals, showing true exponential growth such that the rate is now one new substance every 1.4 seconds.
As we enter this period of unprecedented growth, enabled by a rising global population, shift in demographics, and emergence of new economies requiring more chemicals, materials and energy, we will need to foster the principles of green and sustainable chemistry innovation to ensure that throughout their life cycle, chemicals do not cause harm to our fragile planet and its inhabitants. Climate change must be abated. As a society, we are more interconnected and interdependent than ever. Our future generations will expect chemicals, materials and energy to be sourced and manufactured in a trustworthy, transparent, traceable – and hence sustainable – manner. This will be compulsory and not optional.
Innovation in sustainable coatings, inks and adhesives will be needed across multiple chemically intensive sectors affected by global megatrends, for example: construction, agriculture and food, automotive and electrical, textiles and pharmaceuticals. Urbanisation as a global megatrend has seen more people migrating to cities from rural areas. It is envisaged that an additional 2.5 billion people will move to cities by 2050. The burden on construction and allied industries to provide fit for purpose housing and infrastructure will be immense and these needs will be addressed by chemically-intensive sectors. The global construction chemicals market is forecast to exceed US$ 50 billion by 2025. The global agrochemicals market is predicted to rise to US$ 250.5 billion by 2020 from its 2016 value of $ 215 billion. The textiles and apparel industry is projected to increase by 63%, from 62 million tons in 2016/17 to 102 million tons in 2030. Global spending for medicine is forecast to reach close to $1.5 trillion by 2021. In the future, these global megatrend-influenced industries will be based in the Far East and Asia in the future as a consequence of shifting global economics. Europe and the US will no longer be the dominant chemical manufacturing regions.
This book captures the need for sustainable coatings, inks and adhesives in our modern-day world, which at present are more often than not unsustainable. Drivers for green chemistry are considered from a holistic point of view, which invokes the principle of circularity rather than linearity (Chapter 1). However, this is not to say that sustainable coatings, inks and adhesives are a new paradigm. These already exist in nature and were the only source until the advent and exploitation of crude oil into chemicals and synthetic materials (or articles). We can learn a lot from nature through the production of biomimetic or natural surrogates that produce superhydrophobic surfaces and sophisticated adhesion mechanisms that lead us to self-cleaning decorative façade paints, debonding on command adhesives, biomedical tissue or implant adhesives (Chapters 4, 6, 12 and 13). Appealing car finishes are of little use without appropriate corrosion protection (Chapter 15); durable drug delivery coatings carefully control the release rate of a therapeutic agent but must be durable and flexible on multiple materials and device designs (Chapter 16); aircraft adhesives have to fulfill such diverse requirements as fire resistance, weight management, acoustic and aesthetic maintainability, and structural stability. In other words, except for the non-sustainable throw-away economy, performance is an imperative requirement for coatings and adhesives wherever they are used (Chapters 3 and 5). Natural oils, natural oil polyols, sugars, lignocellulosic residues and proteins are renewable raw materials for solvents, binders and resins in coatings, printing inks and adhesives (Chapters 8–11 and 14).
Biomass and, in particular, waste or underutilised resources themselves serve as an excellent aggregate or feedstock for many adhesives and binders. As a society, we are not short of waste, which should be viewed as a resource. In the future, sustainable solvents will play a major role in the chemical manufacturing of inks, coatings and adhesives either due to current or impending legislation. In silico design of solvents that lead to new solvents (either single or multicomponent) will replace current solvents of very high concern (Chapter 2).
Circularity and reuse, i.e., keeping resource in the loop, will enable new design paradigms in inks, coatings and adhesives. So-called switchable or de-bondable adhesives will come to the fore. We can engineer ourselves out of a problem. The latter being waste because articles have been over-engineered and designed to be one use only. Surface coatings will use less or no solvents, as new technologies will be developed that are both energy and environmentally-efficient (Chapter 5). White Biotechnology (Chapter 7), including directed evolution of enzymes (subject of the 2018 Nobel Price Award), will open new ways to biofuels and pharmaceuticals but also to important building blocks for printing inks and polymers.
As a last word, as practitioners of science and technology, the future of our next generation is in our hands today. Chemistry and allied industries will play a central role but we cannot move forward using the principles of yesteryear. We need to encourage green and sustainable chemistry as a central science that delivers economic, social and environmentally-accepted growth that impacts all of the seventeen global sustainable development goals.
Last but not least, the editors would like to thank all the authors for their commitment and for bringing in their knowledge, their professional experience, and their expertise. By their origin and their academic or industrial spheres of activity, they showcase the importance of coatings, inks and adhesives for modern life in our growing together world with more and more interconnected economies.
Avtar S Matharu