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Our innovative products contribute to resource conservation and climate protection. With them, we help our customers to produce low-emission or energy-efficient products and to increase the safety of their products.
ALTANA offers companies around the world specialty chemical solutions that make products used in daily life better and more sustainable. We convince our customers with added value and give them a competitive edge through our work. Some solutions improve, for example, the functions of end products and increase their shelf life. Others optimize our customers’ value chain in terms of energy and resource consumption. And still others enable our customers to reduce the amount of critical substances in their end products or to replace them with less critical ones. Therefore, innovative, environmentally friendly, safely processable products play a key role. They help ALTANA’s customers implement their own sustainability concepts. Based on this understanding of sustainability, the Group continuously leverages new fields of business and paves the way for further profitable growth.
Due to their strong customer orientation, many ALTANA companies gear their innovation strategies systematically to a catalog of sustainability criteria at a very early
stage of product development. This includes responsible handling of resources (water, energy, and raw materials) as well as the goal of developing products whose effects on the environment are as low as possible without detracting from the product’s function. This is reflected by the increasing number of coatings, additives, and pigment formulations that are conceived for water-based applications and do not need organic solvents.
Another aim of ALTANA’s product strategy is to replace critical components with less critical ones whenever possible. For products that need classifications due to national or international hazardous substance regulations, ALTANA’s companies have special data sheets on hand that provide consumers with important information on safe storage and further processing. Moreover, certified lifecycle analyses are available for certain products.
In the period under review, all divisions made progress with products and technologies that enhance climate protection.
ACTEGA acquired and further developed an innovative technology for the production of labels in the U.S. that requires less material. It can save up to 80 percent in material and significantly reduce the amount of waste. With this technology, layers are printed in reverse order (1. top coat, 2. colors and 3. adhesive) on a release film and then transferred to the object to be printed using specially developed hardware. Since there is no label film on the item, the recyclability is also improved substantially.
In addition, ACTEGA further reduced the share of raw materials based on fossil fuels. For example, about 20 tons of a raw material deployed to produce water-based paints were conserved. In another project, ACTEGA achieved a significant reduction of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC). Through the targeted exchange of various raw materials, VOC emissions were reduced by a total of around 40 tons. At the same time, the proportion of water-based sealing compounds was increased further. This reduces CO2 emissions by an average of approximately 1.5 kg per kg of sealant compared to products on an organic basis. In the past years, BYK developed a new technology for manufacturing additives. The core of this technology is a reaction-mixing pump in which the raw materials are continuously fed into a special mixing chamber. The advantages, compared to conventional production in reactors, are the very short reaction times, the lower energy consumption, and the reduction of waste and emissions. BYK has already produced the first wetting and dispersing additives using this technology.
Furthermore, the division is working with a partner to develop new and innovative technology for the extraction of copper and other metal ores. The “flotation process” currently in use will be advanced significantly. With the help of a functional polymer matrix and special surface additives, the deposition rate of the metal can be increased compared to the current standard. These improvements lead to a significant reduction in the energy required for grinding and processing the ore, while at the same time improving throughput. This technology has already been tested with several types of ore from different regions. A pilot plant is currently in operation in the U.S. The company plans to build further pilot plants in the coming years, thus paving the way for commercial plants.
In the year under review, ECKART presented a new product series for water-based automotive coatings at the European Coatings Show in Nuremberg. This product range, with the abbreviation “SFP” (Solvent-Free Preparation), is solvent-free and thus significantly reduces emissions during application. This means that current and future legal requirements can already be met, especially in the U.S. and China.
The topic of “low-emission resins” was again a concern for ELANTAS this year. For example, the division developed an emission-free impregnating resin for transformers at its site in Quattordio, Italy. New resins with lower emissions and improved application properties were also developed and launched on the market at the ELANTAS site in China. With these products, ELANTAS complies with the new regulatory requirements and additionally enables customers to manufacture their products with less energy consumption due to faster curing processes.
On the one hand, ALTANA’s products can simplify our customers’ manufacturing processes, and on the other they can also significantly improve the properties of products. Both effects have not only economic benefits but also positive effects on the environment.
For instance, the printing varnishes newly developed by ACTEGA in the year under review, which are cured using LED spotlights instead of mercury vapor lamps, make a sustainable contribution. As a result, customers can achieve energy savings of up to 80 percent during the hardening process and mercury is avoided as waste. In addition, some of these products meet various food law requirements.
At ELANTAS, resins were developed that extend the service life of electric motors, among other things. As a result, intervals for expensive and time-consuming replacement procedures can be increased. ELANTAS also launched new resins with improved temperature stability for other applications. For example, the division developed a silicone resin that is used as an insulating material in load magnets. This can significantly extend the service life, for example, when transporting hot metal parts.
The ACTEGA product ARTISTICA RB1006 Z3, a sealing compound for use in beverage cans, received the Platinum level of certification in the material health category of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. This highest award is given to products that meet the strictest requirements in this category. Key criteria involve the raw materials, production, use, and ultimately the disposal or recycling of the final product. The certificate is proof of the high level of innovation and its ability to respond promptly to the most demanding requirements of the beverage packaging industry.
In the year under review, ALTANA succeeded in replacing further critical substances. For instance, BYK developed a new rheology additive that emits significantly lower amounts of formaldehyde during production than other products. Moreover, this additive does not contain any flammable solvents.
A number of other rheology products were optimized so that no alkylphenol ethoxylate has to be used in the formulation. These ethoxylates can have negative effects on human and animal endocrine systems.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) recently classified some by-products as critical for a number of products containing silicone. However, BYK succeeded in complying with the prescribed limits by implementing technical measures.
In the reporting year, ELANTAS also developed and launched several new products containing alternative raw materials in the formulation. This allows these products to be classified as less critical under chemical regulations.
In 2019, ACTEGA Artística in Vigo, Spain, began replacing a product based on raw materials from crude oil with a plant-based resin. This will save about 40 tons of a raw material from fossil sources after the project is completed.
Meanwhile, BYK developed a new surface additive that consists of 100 percent renewable plant-based raw materials. This product is emission-free and suitable as a raw material for products with sustainability certificates. The main area of application is care products and polishes for various surfaces, such as leather and furniture.