In the coatings and specialty products industry, the excitement of an “ah-ha!” moment in product development can be proportionally offset by an “uh-oh” moment in environmental assessment.
That theorem might not be in any textbook, but any product development team that has experienced the disappointment of encountering unforeseen environmental and toxicity issues can attest to its accuracy, according to Jean Chun, PPG’s corporate manager of toxicology. Toxicology is the study of the nature, effects, and detection of poisons, and the treatment of poisoning.
So when PPG toxicologists got an opportunity 10 years ago to team with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to incorporate EPA screening tools early in the product development process, they seized it.
Under the EPA’s Project XL (short for eXcellence and Leadership), PPG became one of two companies – Kodak was the other – to test and validate EPA’ s Pollution Prevention (P2) Framework to streamline and improve the toxicity screening of new products.
“The idea was that P2 would allow us to identify potential problems sooner and improve environmental performance, while at the same time enabling us to bring products to market faster,” Chun said.
Since PPG signed up for the project, it has applied the P2 Framework to 85 new coatings resins and 40 new products in the chemicals business ranging from optical monomers used in Transitions lenses to chemicals used in automotive and aircraft coatings systems.
As a result, it has halved the time it takes to receive EPA manufacturing approval (from 90 to 45 days) for products requiring EPA’s approval, according to Heather Burleigh- Flayer, corporate manager of environmental health sciences and toxicology.
“P2 is now part of our environmental evaluation process on newly developed resins and chemicals,” Burleigh-Flayer said. “It provides a lot of advantages, not just faster approval.” Among those advantages is avoiding the cost of proceeding down the development path only to discover that a proposed new resin, chemical, or raw material raises serious toxicity concerns. Sometimes, that might mean projects are put on hold, but it also allows engineers to design safety processes and systems to mitigate the risks.
“If there’s some flexibility with the raw materials for a certain product, we strive to identify less-toxic alternatives,” Burleigh-Flayer said.
PPG’s toxicologists are continuing to develop and adapt new tools to further improve the company’s environmental screening process.
“This is another step in PPG’s ‘green’ evolution. And it was an honor to be selected by EPA,” said Chuck Kahle, vice president of coatings research and development and chief technology officer. “It demonstrates our commitment to be in the forefront of green initiatives, and it clearly shows that good environmental practices go hand-in-hand with good business.”- top -
A bevy of breakthrough PPG products flying on Boeing’s new luxury 787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft are expected to create a stir – and a demand – among aircraft manufacturers and operators around the world.
That’s the plan that PPG’s aerospace business has long had in mind.
The long-awaited Dreamliner, which took its maiden voyage last December, is chock full of the latest PPG aerospace advancements, including:
• Alteos interactive window systems by PPG.
This marks the industry’s first electrochromic window shades, powered by an interactive system that passengers control. The window system replaces traditional pulldown opaque shades and enables passengers to select the amount of light transmitted through the window, according to Mark Cancilla, PPG business platform leader for commercial transparencies.
“The windows are lighter weight than other shading systems,” Cancilla said, “and offer reduced maintenance because they are self-contained with no moving parts.”
• Commercial aviation’s largest windshields,
providing a panoramic view spanning more than 13 feet, are designed to stay clear of fog and ice.
“The windshields have an outboard ply of strengthened glass by PPG and two stretched-acrylic plies,” Cancilla said. “Glass provides optical clarity, and chemical and abrasion resistance. Combining it with acrylic enables us to produce a lightweight, yet strong, windshield to help meet the airline’s target weight.”
Meanwhile, the electrically-heated defog coatings on the 787 flight-deck windows are made with a gold film. In addition to providing window heat, the coating reflects a large amount of infrared energy, which helps to minimize heat in the cockpit.
• PPG’s selectively strippable system of coatings,
which will simplify and expedite aircraft maintenance while making it more environmentally responsible and less costly, according to Brian Roberson, PPG Aerospace business platform leader for coatings.
Because of the 787’s composite airframe, PPG devised an improved paint system comprising a chromate-free Desoprime epoxy primer to protect the composite and metal surfaces. It also contains a chromate-free DeSoto intermediate coating to facilitate topcoat removal for repainting, and Desothane polyurethane topcoats
Desothane high-solids topcoats have more pigment than traditional coatings, so less material needs to be used to cover the craft. Also, less solvent is used, resulting in reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions when the coating is applied. And with a four-hour dry time, airlines will be able to reduce process cycle time and get planes back into service more quickly, Roberson said.
“ Expected time savings over a normal strip-and-repaint system is about 2.5 days,” Roberson said. “As a result, airlines will reduce refinish downtime by about 40 percent by eliminating base primer application, and hazardous materials collection and disposal.”
• Lightweight, rapid-curing, environmentally responsible PRC brand sealants
for the fuselage and fuel tanks. PRC brand sealants provide performance characteristics designed for the 787’s composite airframe, while reducing weight to enhance fuel efficiency.
“The 787 uses a variety of our ‘Generation III’ lightweight sealants, which offer 20- to 30-percent weight reduction over their predecessors,” according to John Sands, PPG Aerospace business platform leader for sealants. On a wide-body aircraft such as the 787, these reductions take hundreds of pounds off the airframe, contributing to fuel savings and extending range, he said.- top -
One of today’s most-exciting energy-efficient technologies is something called an organic light-emitting diode, or OLED.
OLED displays are used in many electronic devices such as cell phones and MP3 players. Now the technology is being further developed to make white OLED lighting a cost-effective, energy-saving alternative for general lighting applications.
Worldwide estimates place the saving potential of OLED lighting at more than $20 billion in electricity costs by 2016. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that OLED lighting can help reduce electricity demands for building lighting by 60 percent over the next 20 years, and prevent nearly 9 million metric tons of carbon emissions, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The challenge for achieving this game-changing potential, however, is to make OLED technology cost-competitive, according to Carol Bateman, manager of applied technology at PPG’s Monroeville, Pa., chemicals center.
That will require the help of a company with superior technical expertise in glass, coatings and optical products – and a track record of technology leadership.
“That’s why DOE turned to us,” said Bateman with a smile.
PPG has received a $1.6 million DOE grant to develop a cost-effective, functional glass substrate that conducts electricity and delivers more light – and promote the commercialization and mass production of OLED lighting.
Using PPG’s glass technology, the grant will expand PPG’s work with OLED technology, which began 10 years ago through collaboration with Universal Display Corporation (UDC), a leader in developing and delivering OLED technologies, materials and services to the display and lighting industry.
The effort will involve teamwork between PPG’s optical and specialty materials, and performance glazings businesses.
PPG’s primary role to date has been to produce UDC’s proprietary organic molecules that light up when a small electric current passes through them. UDC will be PPG’s subcontractor for the DOE project, Bateman said.
“The OLED molecules are made very much the same way photochromic molecules are made,” Bateman said. “We’ve been able to use our expertise in making complex photochromic molecules for our Transitions lenses and apply it to producing OLED molecules for UDC.”
The light-producing molecules are embedded in a “stack” of thin layers that are deposited on glass coated with transparent, electrically conductive coatings.
“As a new market, OLED lighting is a perfect match for PPG,” said Vicki Holt, senior vice president, glass and fiber glass. “It aligns with our key business strategy to develop products that support energy and climate security, and it brings together existing technologies in both our glass and optical businesses.”
PPG’s glass research and development team is leveraging technology it developed for solar, aerospace and architectural applications, while the optical business is developing coatings to maximize the amount of light emanated by OLED devices.
Besides being energy efficient and environmentally friendly, OLED’s flat panel configuration opens innovative possibilities for lighting design in homes and public places. OLED lighting also produces a full spectrum light that can be adjusted to produce a cooler or warmer tone.
“It’s tremendously exciting for PPG to be in on the ground floor of a new technology,” Bateman said, “that can literally transform the lighting industry.”- top -
It crept slowly, silently over spectacular arctic landscape, sometimes frighteningly close to cragged, fog-wrapped mountaintops, in the first-ever Arctic crossing of the North Pole by hot-air balloon.
Shifting ice cracked loudly below and “reindeer stared at me in amazement,” said Jean-Louis Etienne, French physician, environmentalist, explorer and leader of the “Generali Arctic Observer” expedition. It was “an absolutely extraordinary means of observation. No wind or noise. It’s like having a balcony looking out over our natural world.”
The unique scientific expedition enabled measurements to be taken concerning the earth’s magnetic field, the amount of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, the tropospheric ozone, and the overall environmental condition of the North Pole.
And PPG was there.
PPG’s European automotive refinish coatings business was a technological partner in Etienne’s five-day, solo voyage from the Svalbard islands in Norway, to Siberia through the North Pole.
The expedition’s sponsor, Generali Insurance Co., of France, asked PPG to provide coatings and technical assistance to protect the nasalle – or gondola – in which Etienne survived sub-zero temperatures, and altitudes of nearly 20,000 feet, according to Bernard Lanne, director, PPG Refinish France.
A team led by Frédéric Pflanz at PPG’s Gennevilliers, France, refinish technical center, determined Envirobase High-Performance coatings would be a perfect fit for the fiber-glass nasalle – which resembled a space-flight capsule. The well-known Lahitète auto-body shop in Toulouse, France, (famous for custom-painting airplanes and Formula One cars) applied about 2 liters of PPG coatings to the 1.5-meter by 1.5 meter nasalle.
“Envirobase High-Performance coatings are lightweight, durable, and have low impact on the environment. It precisely matched what the North Pole expedition was about,” Lanne said.
“The coatings were in like-new condition after the voyage. We’re proud to have been associated with the Generali Arctic Observer expedition. We had absolute confidence that Envirobase High Performance coatings would hold up to the most extreme conditions.”
It did. Just ask the reindeer. - top -