WiSys Technologies

Stimuli-Responsive Smart Block Copolymers Improve Dispersion of Titanium Dioxide in Architectural Coatings

WiSys is currently seeking strategic partners in the coatings industry that are interested in co-development opportunities that would ultimately provide a route to market for commercialization of these novel copolymers.

WiSys Technology Number: T200004
Status
Patent Pending
Stage of Development:

New polymer dispersants are currently being developed as additives to existing coatings for improved dispersion of TiO2. Dispersant properties are tunable through modification of the polymer composition as a function of pH and temperature. Initial data shows that the addition of these polymers can decrease settling rate, control viscosity, and control interfacial activity, all of which are important for greater dispersant effectiveness and stability over time. In addition, these polymers have demonstrated the ability to interface with pigment particles, such as TiO2, resulting in improved dispersion of the pigment. Lastly, initial testing shows reduced TiO2 concentration while maintaining zero shear viscosity and shear thinning properties, which prevents drips in the coatings, and is comparable to commercially available formations.

Overview

Smart coatings are responsive to external or environmental factors with an engineered and predictable effect. The most common smart coatings are thermoresponsive, or those that respond to temperature changes, or are anti-corrosive. This technology focuses on stimuli-responsive block copolymer additives to architectural coatings, which use titanium dioxide (TiO2) to provide opacity and the base pigment to coatings like paint, primers, and stains. However, due to its tendency to aggregate, excess amounts of TiO2 are often needed to achieve the same opacity, thereby increasing overall cost. In addition, the toxicological effects of the material in humans and the environment continue to be studied. As such, there is a growing need for the development of technologies like the one described here that provide for improved dispersion of TiO2 particles and thus a reduction in its use.

Invention

An associate professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has synthesized a series of stimuli-responsive block copolymer dispersants optimized for use in architectural coating applications. These novel polymer dispersants are currently being developed as additives to existing coatings for improved dispersion of TiO2. Dispersant properties are tunable through modification of the polymer composition as a function of pH and temperature. Initial data shows that the addition of these polymers can decrease settling rate, control viscosity, and control interfacial activity, all of which are important for greater dispersant effectiveness and stability over time. In addition, these polymers have demonstrated the ability to interface with pigment particles, such as TiO2, resulting in improved dispersion of the pigment. Lastly, initial testing shows reduced TiO2 concentration while maintaining zero shear viscosity and shear thinning properties, which prevents drips in the coatings, and is comparable to commercially available formations. New methods of synthesis to allow for the scaled-up production of polymers are completed and new purification methods are in progress. Further development will also focus on maintaining additional properties like coverage and opacity, and testing of additional polymer compositions and particle surface coatings.

Applications and Key Benefits

  • This technology targets enhancements to existing architectural coatings, such as interior house paints and deck stains. 
  • These copolymers can also enable the creation of new products, including one-coat-hide and paint-and-primer-in-one.
  • The smart block copolymers tested to date improve dispersion of TiO2 and the viscosity profile of the architectural coatings reducing concentrations and the cost of manufacture, and the environmental impact. 
  • This additive technology provides tunable changes to the polymer structure that can result in greater stability or more shear thinning effect, while maintaining profiles comparable to commercially available formulations.
Inventor
Elizabeth Glogowski
Associate Professor, Materials Science and Engineering