Opacifying Acrylic Polymer Technology to Enable Road Markings with Reduced Titanium Dioxide Content

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Road markings are a critical piece of roadway infrastructure, ensuring safety for the driving public and Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) alike. This application represents a large market, with USD 6.42 Billion total revenue in 2022 (1). Waterborne paint is a large and growing portion of the technologies used for road markings, and The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) is a long-standing innovator and supplier in this space. A growing trend in road markings, as well as many other paint markets, is the adoption of more sustainable solutions, including the reduction or removal of substance of high concern (SoC) and improved Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) metrics for coating systems. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a raw material widely used in paints and coatings to provide opacity, performance, and bulk, however, it has a negative impact on the sustainability profile of coatings formulations, with further concerns on EH&S profile, high cost, and supply stability. A typical white road making paint formulation, such as those that are used to stripe highway lines, contains roughly 1 pound of titanium dioxide per gallon of paint and accounts for a large contribution to the overall carbon footprint of the paint.

Dow is a leading provider of innovative technologies to reduce TiO2 usage in paint formulations. However, current commercial solutions in the road marking industry, from Dow and others, primarily target partial TiO2 substitution with organic or inorganic opacifying alternatives with minimal film-forming polymer (binder) adjustments. Opacifying Acrylic Polymer technology (OAP) replaces both the incumbent binder in the material and 50-100% of the TiO2 with a carefully engineered multifunctional material which provides binding AND opacity! This allows for greater TiO2 reduction or even elimination compared to current commercial solutions, combined with enhanced coating performance capabilities and a maximized sustainability potential. OAP is a novel polymer technology for the road marking paint industry with an advanced morphology, that enables waterborne paint to be formulated with significantly reduced or eliminated levels of TiO2 while retaining paint performance commensurate with industry standards.

This revolutionary technology replaces the traditional waterborne binder in a road marking paint formulation, as well as some or all of the TiO2, yielding a more sustainable and lighter weight paint while providing the key property typically attributed to TiO2 – opacity. OAP for road marking paint has been evaluated in both lab and field testing, demonstrating that a minimum of 50% to a maximum of 100% reduction in TiO2 level can be achieved with commensurate properties to a full TiO2 formulation. These field tests validate the practical use of this technology on roads and parking lots in North America and beyond, as an alternative waterborne road marking paint solution that enables more sustainable paints with a comparative 20-27% reduction in the carbon footprint. Manufacturing of this highly innovative and tunable waterborne emulsion technology in Dow’s existing production assets has been demonstrated to be feasible in a safe and cost-effective manner.

1. Road Marking Materials Market Size, Forecast 2022 – 2032 (sphericalinsights.com)


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  • Name:
    Michael Leonard
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    • Michael Leonard
    • Stephanie Long
  • Patent status: