Solving problems you have or initiate new innovations can lead down quite different paths. Sometimes the urge to get rid of a problem can lead to many quick decisions, but what should one really look for in these types of situations? Should your standard tool box of problem solvers be used, or do you have the opportunity to focus on upgrading this box? In this blog post, I will try to show you some concrete examples why adding new tools to your tool box can improve your functionalities beyond your scope, using the microfibrillated cellulose as an example. Simply, why new functionality beats substitution.
Innovation opportunities through bio-based products and multifunctionality
Bio-based is a buzzword these days. The search for new technologies that can deliver additional effect to systems is intriguing.
I have been attending several trade shows and I am spending time understanding the directions the technology developments are taking. As an example. Samsung recently stated that they will replace plastic packaging with eco-friendly materials, the field of coating is developing towards a higher use of plant based systems which in turn give different demands, and companies like Modern Meadow are looking to revolutionize the leather industry with bio-based materials. The focus is of course on how to get these new environmentally friendly systems to perform better.
I want to share some experiences on the product I am working on daily, the Cellulose Fibrils area and Microfibrillated Cellulose (MFC). It is biobased, and we have described its multifunctionalities in a wide variety of blog posts on the Exilva blog. I have heard that multifunctionality story before, you might think, but the key here is actually how it can deliver functionalities in very different areas. Let’s stop for a moment and imagine that you are a coating producer with the current problems:
- Settling of particles in your formulation
- Problems with cracks in your finished coating film
These two problems seem fairly far apart, and may need two different angles of approach to be handled. But this is actually where I experience that a product like MFC can help you shift your focus to some extent. Or even better: let you solve two problems with one product. The reason why is simple. MFC is a three-dimensional, non-soluble network of cellulose microfibrils. These fibrils stabilize your pigments and other particles physically in your formulation. At the same time, the fibers high ability to hold water and control open time when drying can help to decrease the amount of cracking taking place. Thus, as soon as the water has evaporated and the coating is dried the number of cracks in the surface can be greatly reduced. The physical fibers from MFC also play a part, where they can act as a reducer of stress while the coating dries. If you would like to read more on why mud-cracks appear in coatings, AkzoNobel has made a great presentation on the subject.
So, these two functionalities gives a coating with improved stability at rest, while at the same time allowing you to reduce issues with cracking in the coating surface.
If you are also interested in the bio-based story of MFC, let me point you to a couple of blog posts on the subject:
--> Interested in more information on anti-cracking? Read our blog post on why using MFC in coatings
In my view, one needs to keep the mind open to new additions to the toolbox. The world of additives is developing, and by providing new product characteristics, examples like the MFC can provide rheology, strength, barrier properties and processability improvements.
--> Looking for more pH independent additives? Read our blog post on MFC and pH stability
And just to throw out a last thought: struggling with blistering while coating thick layers? Why not take a look at what MFC can offer here. Clue: start your search on our blog post on barrier properties of MFC.
Mats Hjørnevik has eight years’ experience working on microfibrillated cellulose. As the marketing manager of the Exilva products from Borregaard, he works closely on introducing the concept of microfibrillated cellulose to the market. Mats has a M.Sc. in international marketing and experience from international locations.
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