Coatings in the form of varnishes and paints are of key importance to the final products of furniture and woodworking industries. Besides durability and resistance, the coating is also a measure of the quality of the whole piece and defines its visual appeal. At present coatings are mostly solvent-based rather than water-based, because the former have better durability. However, solvent-based coatings are associated with harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are being phased out by EU legislation. The EU-funded NEXT1KOAT (Novel high performance, water-based "high solids" and bio-based industrial wood coating) project addressed this challenge, by creating improved environmentally friendly water-based coatings. The alternative coating compounds were made from sustainable seaweed sources, which do not grow on land, thus avoiding increased land use pressure. Project partners researched chemical reactions and processes concerning these seaweed compounds, and tested their compatibility with other compounds. The consortium also developed processes to manufacture a range of important coating compounds from the seaweed building blocks. In addition, scientists have also investigated methods for application, drying and curing using these compounds. NEXT1KOAT coatings boasted the following properties: less water content, reduced drying time and less grain raising. They also gave improved wood wetting without the need for surfactants, less foam formation, increased hardness and a more glossy final aspect. These results will allow European woodworking and furniture manufacturers to compete more effectively with competitors from around the world. The project will help improve the quality of life of EU citizens by contributing to the reduction of pollution and hazardous VOCs originating from paints and varnishes. Furthermore, workers and painters will no longer be exposed to the toxic compounds associated with these coatings.
Paints, seaweed, varnishes, volatile organic compounds, NEXT1KOAT