Our innovative products contribute to conserving resources and protecting the environment. At the same time, we help our clients manufacture with low emissions and energy-efficiently, and assist them in enhancing the safety of their products.

Sustainable Product Strategy

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 advantage through our work. Some solutions improve the functions of end products and increase their shelf life. Others optimize our customers’ value chains 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. 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 (for example, 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, for example, 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. With an eye to an increasing circular economy and to further improve the ecological footprint of its products, ALTANA also evaluates the use of renewable raw materials or raw materials from recycling processes, without disregarding its high standards of quality and compliance with chemical regulations. With the ALTANA Excellence program, manufacturing processes are constantly being optimized in terms of energy efficiency as well as emissions and waste avoidance.

Products and Technologies for More Climate Protection

In the year under review, all divisions made progress with products and technologies for greater climate protection.

At BYK, a new series of polyurethane-based associative thickeners was developed that can be used to influence the flow behavior of aqueous systems. Unlike predecessor and competitor products, the products themselves no longer contain any water. This saves more than 800 liters of water per ton of sales product. In addition, no preservatives are added and the shelf life of the products is extended. Furthermore, they are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and have an improved footprint in terms of greenhouse gas emissions produced during manufacturing.

ECKART achieved a milestone in the field of grinding technology for bronze and copper pigments, introducing a new process that leads to a significant reduction in waste and uses less energy. This alone avoids around 50 tons of CO2 equivalents per year, making an important contribution to climate protection and increasing resource efficiency without the product properties being affected.

Apart from process modifications, novel raw materials and reaction products also play an important role. For example, ELANTAS succeeded in developing a new series of wire enamels. In addition to advantages in production, such as shorter reaction times and lower energy consumption, they improve adhesion to the wires in customer applications, thus ensuring a longer service life.

ACTEGA reached another milestone in the field of inks for packaging materials with the “SafeShield” product portfolio. The products are free of volatile organic solvents and can be cured by using LED radiation. This obviates the need for the environmentally harmful mercury lamps otherwise used by the industry in the curing of printing varnishes and inks. As a result, less hazardous waste is produced and less energy is required for the process. This enables our customers to avoid around 200 tons of CO2 equivalents a year.

Low-Emission Products and Technologies

All of the divisions launched new products that help reduce various emissions. This not only reduces possible stresses at the workplaces, thus improving protection for the respective users, but also conserves resources and the environment.

An important aspect here is the reduction or, if possible, avoidance of organic solvents. BYK is consistently expanding its portfolio of emission-free products for different application areas. The spectrum ranges from wetting and dispersing agents to rheological additives, defoamers, and additives that have a positive influence on the properties of surfaces. In order to positively impact the flow behavior of coating systems, rheological additives can also be used on the basis of natural minerals, so-called layered silicates. BYK developed new products for this purpose that are formulated without organic solvents and offer increased durability. This extends the service life of customer formulations and prevents waste from expired goods.

The other divisions also introduced further low-solvent or solvent-free products on the market. For example, ELANTAS in Brazil developed a new type of impregnating resin for insulation that contains around 40 % less volatile organic substances and is suitable for aqueous systems due to its water dilutability. Nevertheless, it cures very well and leads to excellent thermal and mechanical properties after drying. At the Chinese sites in Tongling and Zhuhai, various products were developed that have led to the avoidance of more than 500 tons of organic compounds a year, including solvents, xylene, and styrene. The spectrum ranges from impregnating resins and wire enamels to lubricants in the electrical insulation materials sector.

ACTEGA is taking a similar approach in the field of overprint varnishes for beverage and food cans. Additional materials were added to the product portfolio already on the market to meet various customer requirements. For example, the products have a very low volatile organic compound content and can replace the solvent-based products commonly used in the market. As a consequence, around 3,000 tons of solvents were saved in the year under review. This conserves resources and benefits occupational safety and climate protection. If emission-free application is possible, costly thermal follow-up treatments of the exhaust air can be dispensed with. These are often operated with natural gas, which produces climate-damaging greenhouse gases during combustion.

Replacement of Critical Substances

In the year under review, ALTANA succeeded in replacing additional critical substances. These efforts are driven on the one hand by more stringent chemical regulations, and on the other by the trend towards more environmentally friendly systems. Our products make an important contribution to such systems. In the U.S., for example, ELANTAS has been able to develop products in the fields of potting compounds and wire enamels that minimize the use of critical raw materials. Even if there is no risk after they have been reacted off, the aim is to completely dispense with these raw materials in the future and to further expand the portfolio of sustainable products. ELANTAS Tongling achieved a breakthrough in efforts to reduce cresol and xylene in wire enamels. The two substances were replaced by a new type of raw material, saving around 250 tons of cresol and 5 tons of xylene per year. And this leads to an additional avoidance of around 320 tons of CO2 equivalents in greenhouse gas emissions during the actual application and curing process.

BYK was able to expand its portfolio in the area of N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone(NMP)-free rheological additives. To this end, urea-based products were developed that can be used in various applications, in which a differentiation is made between low, medium, and high polarity systems. Thanks to the specific structure of the ureas, the products can be perfectly adapted to the respective requirements. They are tailor-made, so to speak, yet compatible with a wide range of systems. And they do not require any NMP at all. In addition, their high active ingredient content reduces the amount of solvent required by up to 25 %.

The elimination of perfluorinated organic compounds is an important trend. Many of them are considered persistent, which means they remain in the environment for a very long time and are not degraded by natural processes. In this context, BYK developed a new surface additive in the CERAFLOUR series that does not contain any fluorine compounds yet still ushers in outstanding improvements in the scratch and abrasion resistance of coating systems.

As in previous years, BYK further expanded its range of tin-free wetting and dispersing agents. The products meet current requirements, especially those of customers in the furniture industry. The formulations also comply with special regulations, including the Toy Safety Directive.

Contributions to a Circular Economy

The topic of a circular economy is becoming increasingly important for the chemical industry. The transition from linear to circular value chains includes reuse as well as mechanical and chemical recycling. This also encompasses waste incineration processes in which the heat generated is used as a source of energy and, in the future, will include the reuse of the resulting CO2 as a chemical raw material.

Product design figures prominently in this process. The aim is to achieve both the desired product properties and simple recycling of the raw materials.

ECKART succeeded in developing bio-based preparations for aluminum pigments. The MASTERSAFE BCR products are dust-free pigment preparations that are easy to handle and can be dispersed very easily in many plastics. They are suitable for high coverage applications such as films. The carrier is a bio-based polyolefin wax derived from renewable raw materials. It has a significantly reduced carbon footprint. In the reporting year alone, around four tons of CO2 equivalents could be avoided thanks to this development.

BYK was also able to further expand its product range based on renewable raw materials. One example is a new wax additive in the AQUACER series, a modified rice bran wax emulsion for improving the surface properties of care products, polishes, and aqueous coating systems. Rice bran is a by-product that is created when natural rice is husked and turned into white rice, and is not a microplastic.

In the field of catalysts for converting fatty acids into higher molecular weight compounds, BYK also had a success story. A new catalyst based on natural clay offers major advantages for the dimerization of fatty acids. Dimer (and trimer) acids are important raw materials for chemical processes such as the manufacture of polyesters, adhesives, and lubricants.

In addition to these specific product developments and raw material projects, ALTANA is also involved in national and international initiatives, such as the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) and the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC).