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Lim Eng Seng

New Monomers for the Next Generation of Highly Sustainable Binders

Manufacturers are coming under increasing pressure from direct customers, end consumers, competitors and
regulatory bodies to improve the sustainable development of their operations. Whilst a polymer manufacturer can
still improve business sustainability by other means - such as reducing water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, net
waste and non-renewable energy consumption during manufacture/transport - the most effective route towards
becoming truly sustainable is clearly to research, develop and promote more sustainable monomers and other raw
materials into the market place.

The primary criteria for new monomers are as follows:

  1. Performance – From a polymerisation viewpoint the new monomers must be easily processed and give
    clean, fully converted reactions. In the end application the new monomers must offer comparable
    performance to current oil-based systems

  2. Availability - the new monomers must be readily available.

  3. Cost - the price must be relatively close – or projected to be relatively close as the volume increases – to that of current oil-based equivalents.

In this study, oil-based acrylates were substituted by 2-Octyl Acrylate (2-OA) and Isobornylmethacrylate (IBOMA) in
three alternative monomer systems. Reference versions containing the oil-based acrylate or styrene equivalent
were also produced to give fair comparison.

Products were compounded and the application properties evaluated in typical formulations suitable for use in the
decorative coating and an industrial wood coating markets.

These initial investigations demonstrate the potential for achieving the same level (or better) performance with
bio-renewable monomers that is currently achievable with oil-based equivalents. Commercial viability, however,
ultimately depends on the interest in such sustainable raw materials within the industry itself.

Lim Eng Seng is attached to Revertex Malaysia heading the APEC Regional Construction & Coatings Technical Service department.

He has been associated with surface coatings industry for the last 30 years, having led the ICI Paints R&D and Technical Service portfolio in Malaysia, PR China and Asean over his 20 years of service with the company.
During this period he has developed various products for ICI Paints Decorative, Performance Coatings and Refinish markets, and has constantly interacted with the market in various capacities.

Eng Seng joined Synthomer 8 years ago to head the R&D portfolio for 2 years before moving over to the external market engaging technical service role covering the Asia & ANZ region.