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 econnomy 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. For instance, BYK was able to further expand its portfolio of wetting and dispersing agents used in high performance batteries. These products are important for perfectly distributing and stabilizing the lithium iron phosphate contained in the batteries, thereby achieving a high power density and a long battery life. Another important advantage over conventional batteries based on lithium ions or nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) is that they are much safer in terms of self-heating. The products therefore make an important contribution to the growing electromobility sector, for which ELANTAS, too, has successfully established innovative products on the market.

In a joint project, ACTEGA in Brazil succeeded in developing innovative overprint varnishes that are applied to surfaces previously treated with plasma technology and cross linked utilizing UV radiation. This process allows them to be applied directly to metal and eliminates the need for organic solvents. The carbon footprint is reduced by around 40 % compared to comparable solvent based coating systems. Simultaneously, emissions from other processes along the production chain are reduced by up to 90 %.

ECKART is setting new standards in the realm of aluminum pigments. Through the utilization of so-called “low carbon” aluminum as a primary material, metal pigments can be produced with a significantly reduced carbon footprint compared to standard pigments on the market. ECKART goes one step further: By incorporating secondary aluminum, sourced from recycling processes, to further decrease this environmental impact. Given the paramount importance of maintaining top-tier quality in these aluminum types, ECKART employs a TÜV-certified mass balance approach. This ensures compliance with customer specifications while considering the presently constrained availability of raw materials.

ELANTAS developed a new type of polyester that is particularly suitable for coating flat wires and thick round wires. It contains up to 50 % solids and thus saves solvents. Approximately 250 kg of solvent can be conserved per ton of sales product, which leads to a reduction of approximately 750 kg of CO² equivalents of greenhouse gases in the downstream value chain.

Process optimizations that can save energy also make an active contribution to climate protection. For example, BYK in the Netherlands has succeeded in developing a new type of process that allows wax powder to be produced at significantly lower temperatures than is usually the case.

Low-Emission Products and Technologies

All 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. ELANTAS was able to introduce another water-based impregnating resin in Brazil that results in 40 % less volatile organic substances. At the same time, it retains the good drying properties and mechanical stability after curing that are typical of resins with a higher solvent content. BYK is also consistently expanding its portfolio of emission-free products for different areas of application, ranging from wetting and dispersing agents to surface additives, defoamers, and additives that have a positive effect on flow properties. For instance, BYK has developed a new type of associative thickener for water-based ink systems that is formulated without organic solvents. It is specially designed for systems that contain no or only very small amounts of organic solvents. The mode of action of an associative thickener can be described as bridging the binder units and thus adjusting the flow behavior of the coating. This additionally has a positive impact on the opacity of the coating.

ELANTAS in Zhuhai provides a protective coating tailored for the electronics industry, eliminating the need for BTX and other organic solvents. BTX, representing benzene, toluene, and xylene, are aromatic organic compounds that were previously widely employed for their superior solvent properties. However, due to recognized hazards, there is a current trend to minimize their use in various applications. This means that more than 500 kg of BTX and solvents can be avoided per ton of the product sold.

Replacement of Critical Substances

In addition to reducing the quantities of volatile organic solvents, ALTANA again succeeded in replacing other critical substances in the year under review. These efforts are driven on the one hand by increasing chemical regulations and on the other by the trend towards more environmentally friendly systems. Our products make a significant contribution to this effort.

BYK introduced a new family of silicone defoamers as an alternative to defoamers for solvent-based systems that are based on perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances. Many of these compounds are persistent, in other words, they remain in the environment for a very long time and are not degraded by natural processes. The new defoamer family dispenses completely with such fluorine-containing compounds, providing customers with an effective alternative – similar to the approach BYK takes with wax additives.

ACTEGA further expanded its range of PVC-free sealing materials. The division now offers sealing materials for press / twist closures for baby food under the brand name PROVALIN. These closures have special sealing requirements, as they are placed on the glass body after the hot food has been poured in and are mainly held in place by the vacuum created during cooling with only slight rolling of the lid. They can be loosened for use by twisting. These new products not only eliminate the need for PVC, but also the plasticizers it contains.

ELANTAS developed CMR-free amine hardeners for epoxy resins in Europe. The consistent avoidance of reprotoxic substances in particular offers customers a wide range of applications, particularly in the automotive sector.

Butyl glycol is another material that has been reclassified in recent years due to its properties. The hazard statement H331“Toxic by inhalation” has been added. BYK thus offers alternatives for numerous products that do not contain butyl glycol at all or in which the content is reduced to below the threshold value for labeling. Its product portfolio includes new surface additives, wetting and dispersing agents, as well as wax additives.

ACTEGA adopts an innovative strategy with its POLISTAR portfolio. All the raw materials employed undergo certification in adherence to rigorous regulatory standards, ensuring that the resultant formulations also carry certifications. This provides customers with a clear and unwavering regulatory assurance. The products bear the bronze seal of approval, and the external certification comprehensively addresses toxicological, environmental, and safety related aspects.

Contributions to 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.

BYK has significantly broadened its range of bio-based wax products for this purpose. The CERAFLOUR family representatives provide micronized wax powders predominantly derived from bio-based raw materials, some of which are entirely biodegradable. This sustainable approach facilitates the desired matting of painted surfaces. This becomes particularly impactful as lacquer coatings are seldom recyclable.

For bio-based plastics, BYK offers additives within the SCONA portfolio that have a positive influence on the various properties of plastics. They increase the compatibility of different materials, improve the dispersion properties, and influence the flow behavior of the plastic. They are based on more than 95 % renewable raw materials and have a high degree of biodegradability due to the polylactic acid content.

To make paper and cardboard for food packaging resistant to moisture, fats, and oils, they are usually coated accordingly or laminated with plastic films, say, made of polyethylene. The plastic layers applied in this way make subsequent recycling and thus recovery as waste paper more difficult. ACTEGA developed innovative coating systems that overcome these challenges, providing excellent durability and simultaneously enabling effective recycling. Applications range from ice cream packaging to packaging for foodstuffs that are heated in the oven.

In the realm of precise dosing for material conservation, ACTEGA presents a solution through its distinctive ROTARflow technology. This innovative system enables the automatic and continuous control and adjustment of the quantity of ARTISTICA water-based sealants directly at the application point. Contrasted with a manually controlled ap plication process, which involves weight control at infrequent intervals and on a limited number of samples, the ROTARflow-managed process ensures the production of can lids with a consistently controlled sealant weight.

Metal pigments can make the recycling process of plastics more difficult, as they reflect the near-infrared radiation used for sorting and therefore weaken the signal. In response to this issue, ECKART developed new aluminum pigments offered under the brand name NIR Silver. They come in a variety of attractive silver shades, are suitable for numerous plastics, and facilitate the subsequent recycling process.

ELANTAS established a new potting material for the electronics sector containing more than 35 % bio-based raw materials and offering the same outstanding properties as the standard material.

Apart from 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).