Fumed silicas are an important component of many coating formulations. A natural behavior that formulators have struggled with for decades is fumed silica forms aggregates and agglomerates. Due to this natural behavior, in the production of coatings, optimal dispersion of fumed silica is technically the most challenging and time-consuming process step. At present, two process steps are used; first a pre-dispersion step using a dissolver to loosely break up the agglomerates and then a second step using a bead mill to fully de-aggregate and homogeneously disperse.
Now thanks to an innovation in the production process for AEROSIL® fumed silica, it will be possible in the future to disperse, easy-to-disperse (E2D) variants of the fumed silica directly and exclusively by means of the one step - dissolver. This stream lines processing and reduces cleaning times as well as production losses. The elimination of the step 2 grinding process in a bead mill also reduces investment and maintenance costs for the customer.
A special feature is that the easy-to-disperse versions of the fumed silicas are chemically identical with the corresponding AEROSIL® products and globally registered. Having no compromise in functional performance, they also have the same efficiency and optical properties, which means producers do not need to adapt their existing formulations, and new formulations can be developed using the same rules as for older coatings.
The new E2D variants can be used across all market segments served by Evonik in the area of coatings: industrial, decorative, automotive, and inks. With this, the company has once again proven its leading position and innovative strength in fumed oxides. Thanks to the new process, Evonik is in a leading position to produce easily dispersed fumed silica products with extremely high competitive and differentiation potential, as compared with standard AEROSIL® products.
The first product grades of AEROSIL® E2D were introduced about eight months ago and market response has been enthusiastic. The pilot plant has enabled the BL to already sell significant volumes to key coating customers and that has proved that the technical and commercial arguments of Evonik seem to be valid. An industrial production plant is therefore already in planning.