Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Business Implications Will Help Grow the Green Industrial Evolution
Now that’s what you call green.
We’re talking about the news in today’s edition of Durability + Design, from the agricultural-commodities behemoth Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). The company announced that it has begun offering isosorbide, an industrial ingredient made from corn and a potential alternative to chemicals used in coatings and other products.
The company said isosorbide is a potential alternative to the petroleum-based chemical Bisphenol A, used in the manufacture of epoxy coatings and polycarbonate plastics. ADM said it is the first company in North America to offer the renewable material on a commercial scale.
Corn is green; no question about that. It’s a plant, and plants are green. And it’s “renewable”; it can be germinated from the seed produced by the mature plant, and nurtured to produce for another harvest.
Reasonable people can argue whether it’s really all that “green” in terms of carbon footprint, energy consumption, and those sorts of considerations. Producing the crop on a commercial scale certainly consumes other resources.
But setting that debate aside, it’s certainly intriguing, even exciting, to see R&D efforts directed at creating alternatives to conventional, hydrocarbon-based industrial materials.
Bisphenol A, if you were wondering, is commonly used to produce epoxy resins by means of a reaction with epichlorohydrin. In epoxy coatings, this resin is combined with a second component, or hardener, to create a highly crosslinked material that exhibits considerable tensile and cohesive strength, and resistance to moisture and aggressive chemicals.
The attributes of Bis-A as a key component of high-performance epoxy coatings, however, are mitigated in the eyes of health and environment advocates due to health risks. These experts cite studies showing that Bis-A in humans is linked to prostate and breast cancer, obesity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, altered immune deficiency, lowered sperm counts, early puberty, and even brain damage. These experts also say Bis-A is pervasive in the human population, based on samples of levels in the body.
In any event, it behooves makers of coatings raw materials and formulators of coatings to have a look at alternatives such as isosorbide, and see what the prospects are for development of new products.
It’s not just that it might be green, renewable, or sustainable. In this age of acute public and consumer awareness of these buzzwords, it’s just good business.
More items for
Archer Daniels Midland Company;