North America Continues to Dominate Microspheres Market


Posted April 22, 2016 on

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The global microspheres market is expected to reach $5.52 billion by 2020, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5%, according to a recent report from Technavio. North America is the biggest market for microspheres, as the materials offer better process control and enhance the efficiency of operations. The U.S. is the top consumer of all types of microspheres products in North America. Though the market in North America is significant, it is still growing at a good pace because of the increase in demand of current and emerging applications such as construction composites, biotechnology, and medicine.

“North America accounts for about 43% of the global microspheres market,” said Chandrakumar Badala Jaganathan, lead analyst. “Construction composites hold the majority of the share in the North American microspheres market while the medical technology markets have been experiencing maximum growth.”

Europe accounted for about 29% of the global microspheres market in 2015. The microspheres market in Europe generated revenues of $970 million in 2015 and will likely reach $1.58 billion by 2020. 

The major applications of microspheres in Europe are in the manufacturing and medical industry. Germany is the leading country for microsphere consumption in Europe. The microspheres market in Russia is anticipated to experience high growth during the forecast period. 

The microspheres market is experiencing a boom, especially in India and other emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific market, due to massive spending on infrastructure and the flourishing manufacturing industry. The high demand is primarily for the development and modernization of infrastructure and in existing and emerging applications in the construction sectors. Technavio expects the demand from manufacturing and medical industries for microspheres in the emerging economies in Asia-Pacific to bode well for the market. Australia, China and India are the major revenue contributors to the market in APAC. 

The microspheres market is in its infancy stage in Central and South America. This region is experiencing high growth due to increased infrastructure spending and low base effect. Central and South America offer significant prospects for manufacturers establishing their manufacturing bases and sales offices because of the regions’ flourishing oil and gas industries. 

“Construction composites hold the majority of the share in the microspheres market in Africa, Central and South America, and the Middle East, while the medical technology markets have been experiencing maximum growth,” said Jaganathan. 

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Palmer Holland Receives Evonik Awards


While attending the American Coatings Show in Indianapolis on April 2, 2016, Palmer Holland was delighted to receive two recognitions from Evonik Industries. The awards for Excellence in Aerosil® and Aeroxide® Sales and Excellence in Service Dynasylan® were presented by John Luppino and C.C. Chen respectively.

In attendance at Evonik’s Distributor Appreciation Reception Dinner were Chad E. Leightly, Business Manager, Mike Pfeiffer, Director of Sales – Enterprise Accounts & New Business Development, and Ron Zmich, Vice President of Sales.

Thank you to Evonik Industries and all who were in attendance.

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Minimal Eco Impact. Maximal Color Effect.

Minimal Eco Impact. Maximal Color Effect.

April 1, 2016

By Stephan Spiegelhauer, Head of Global Competence Center Paints and Coatings, LANXESS Inorganic Pigments, Krefeld-Uerdingen, Germany, PCI Apr. 2016
To view this article in the PCI digital edition, click here:

Four manufacturing processes have gained industrial significance worldwide for the production of iron oxide red pigments. The two most important processes for the production of red iron oxide pigments, in terms of volumes, are the Laux process and the Penniman process, which together account for more than 90% of the worldwide demand for synthetic red iron oxides. However, the pigment properties and environmental impact of the two processes differ significantly.

Pigments from the Laux process offer a wide color range with particular strengths in medium and bluish red color shades. The relatively hard consistency of the primary Laux particles has its most positive effect in grades with large particle diameters. Furthermore, the pigment formation via a calcination step leads to good milling stability, particularly in bright reds with particle sizes lower than 0.4 µm.

Coloristic properties are not only determined by particle size but also by the morphology of a pigment, which differs due to different manufacturing processes. Thus it is possible to manufacture very bright red pigments with yellow undertone, exemplified by the Penniman process.

The traditional manufacturing process for iron oxide red using the Penniman route is considered particularly challenging due to the formation of gaseous nitrogen oxides and water-soluble nitrate and ammonium compounds in the wastewater (Figure 1).

LANXESS has proven that the conventional Penniman reaction process gives rise to the formation of significant amounts of laughing gas (nitrous oxide, N2O). Nitrous oxide accounts for 5-6% of the total global emissions of greenhouse gases and is produced by 500-600 companies around the world. It occurs mainly as a byproduct of the manufacture of nitric acid and has an almost 300 times higher climate impact than CO2. As part of the World Climate Summit held in Paris at the end of 2015, the German Federal Environment Ministry proposed an initiative that by 2020 global nitrous oxide emissions should be eliminated by the use of efficient catalyst technology.

LANXESS took on the challenge and developed and implemented the Ningbo process in its new production plant in China to manufacture bright iron oxide reds in a sustainable way (Figure 2). This production process recycles emitted gases, including nitrous oxide, by using a complete catalytic decomposition of N2O to form naturally occurring nitrogen, oxygen and water. This results in a reduction of over 70% CO2 equivalents, relative to conventional Penniman red technology. Furthermore, using a multistage wastewater treatment process, more than 80% of the wastewater is cleaned and recycled back into the process. The remaining 20% of the wastewater is virtually free of nitrates and only contains dissolved sulphate, which can be re-used in the process.

It is worth stressing that conventional Penniman producers still continue to emit the greenhouse gas N2O unrecycled directly into the environment.

New Shades of Red

In the most modern iron oxide production plant located in Ningbo, China, approximately 25,000 tons of bright, yellow-shade red pigments will be synthesized and are likely to be of particular interest for paint and coating applications. These “New Red” pigments will be marketed in the future under the Bayferrox brand. Table 1 summarizes some technical characteristics of the New Red series.

In addition to the synthesis capacity of the Ningbo facility, the plant will also have a state-of-the-art mixing and milling plant with a capacity of around 70,000 tons. By blending the synthesized red pigments it is possible to reach both new and established color shades (Figure 3).

The Ningbo process is made in several steps. Primary raw materials are iron (in the form of steel), nitric acid, water (in the form of steam), ferrous sulphate and air. To achieve defined and clean color shades it is necessary to grow the pigment particles around a defined seed. Increasing the particle size around the seed leads to an optimum color saturation point, after which the pigment begins to lose chromaticity (Figure 4).

Numerous factors have a direct influence on the pigment growth. In the case of bright yellow-shade red iron oxide pigments, it is possible to widen the color development curve to reach higher a* and b* color values. Furthermore, through specific measures, the build up curve can be precisely stopped at the desired color shade to enable a number of targeted color spaces to be achieved. The influencing factors are complex and need to be applied in the right way and at the right dosage. Raw material selection and the seed quality are of fundamental importance. In addition, the control of the reaction progress and the reaction conditions must also be coordinated. No single factor is decisive; a combination of different factors will result in the highest pigment quality.

The iron oxide seed preparation, in particular, represents a special challenge. Only a defined particle shape and narrow particle size distribution ensure a uniform pigment growth (Figure 5). For this reason, the raw material quality is of fundamental importance. Iron scrap can contain a lot of accompanying elements. Used as a raw material for the production of iron oxides, some of these elements can have a negative influence on the coloristic properties of the pigment. Using the Ningbo process optimization, it is possible to significantly lower the amount of disruptive side elements within the crystal lattice of the final pigment.

In addition to efficient reduction of waste materials, changes in the process management lead to pigments covering new color spaces that surpass all previously available iron oxide red pigments in the market. This extraordinary color development can be predicted by just looking at the pure pigment powder. 

The absorption of inorganic color pigments is mainly determined by their elemental composition and crystalline structure. The size of the primary pigment particles is, however, of critical importance for light diffusion.

Iron oxide pigments have a relatively unsaturated color shade compared to some color pigments produced using other chemical processes. This can be explained by looking more closely at the physical boundary conditions imposed by nature. Due to the short distance between the iron ions of only 2.89 nm within the crystal lattice, the excitation in visible light triggers a d-d electron transition. In the reflection spectrum a rather flat edge with a clear and distinct shoulder is visible. The higher and steeper the reflection edge the more saturated the shade. A comparison of the spectra of a regular blue-shade red and a regular bright yellow-shade red compared to one of the new pigments from the Ningbo process is illustrated in Figure 6. The reflection curve of the pigment from the Ningbo process is clearly steeper, and this is directly related to higher chromaticity.

For coloristic evaluation in final coatings systems, bright, yellow-shade iron oxide reds from various manufacturing processes were selected and compared against each other. The chromaticity values C* were determined in a long-oil alkyd system, excluding all other paint ingredients such as wetting and dispersing additives. Only then can the color development of the pure pigment be displayed.

In both full shade and reduction (1:5 with TiO2), the newly developed iron oxide reds from the Ningbo process show the highest chromaticity value C*(Figure 7). It is noticeable that pigments from the different manufacturing processes do not show consistent C* values in full shade and reduction. Higher C* values in full shade often give low values in reduction and vice versa. The results illustrated for the Ningbo process were made using material from an operational trial reactor in Krefeld, Germany, which was operated according to the Ningbo process.

Efficient downstream grinding technology, which increases the share of primary particles in the pigment, improves the incorporation ability into liquid systems significantly. This process is called micronization and was first introduced by Bayer in Germany in 1964, setting a new milestone for the coatings industry.

The iron oxide red pigments from the Ningbo process are softer than Laux calcined pigments and therefore require an adapted form of micronization. In the milling plant in Ningbo, China, state-of-the-art grinding technology is used, whereby the particles are ground continuously to a reproducible size.

It is desirable to keep the energy input in the dispersion as low as possible. In the case of the New Red series from the Ningbo process, optimum results can be achieved by using high-speed dissolvers. The quality of the dispersion is excellent and comparable with established red iron oxides from the LANXESS Bayferrox 100 M series.

This can be clearly illustrated by photographic means. The white dots on the grinding gauge images represent protruding particles after 15 min dispersing with a high-speed dissolver in a long-oil alkyd system. The scaling ranges from 0 to 100 µm.

Figure 8 illustrates the grind values of an iron oxide from the Ningbo process compared to a regular calcined iron oxide red.

Narrow Particle Size Distribution

The different color spaces of iron oxide reds are due, among other things, to differences in the particle morphology and the particle size distribution. The exact color parameters cannot, however, be predicted using a direct correlation with the particle morphology or the particle size distribution. Light, yellow-shade red pigments tend to exhibit a smaller particle size and an especially narrow particle size distribution, while darker red pigments are significantly larger. Due to light scattering, the size of the primary particles exerts an influence on the chromaticity, tinting strength and opacity.

The interaction between visible light in the wavelength range of 380 to 780 nm and pigment particles reaches an optimum if the particles are in the magnitude of half the wavelength of the absorbed light. In the case of red iron oxide pigments, this optimum is at a particle size of 250 to 300 nm. Smaller particles support the red value a*. Iron oxides from the Ningbo process contain a high amount of fine particles in the optimum particle size range. The determination of particle size distribution, by means of the laser diffraction method, is an indirect method that calculates the values from a formula that contains, among other things, the complex refractive index for hematite. The refractive index is not yet sufficiently defined and distinctive. Therefore, the values should only be interpreted comparatively. The measurement is related to the particle volume, i.e. larger particles are represented disproportionately.

Figure 9 shows the volume-related particle size distribution of a regular calcined hematite pigment PR 101 (black curve) compared to an iron oxide from the Ningbo process (red curve). The optimum area of particles is larger, which indicates additional chromaticity.

Results at a Glance

In addition to highly sustainable production, the Ningbo process provides iron oxide red pigments with exceptional coloristic behavior that exceeds any currently available iron oxide pigment in the market. This is due to process optimization, which enables a defined particle shape to be generated coupled with narrow particle size distribution and uniform pigment growth.

The newly developed Bayferrox New Red pigments are characterized by excellent incorporation ability, even when using low-shear dispersing forces. The dispersibility determined on a grinding gauge is similar to the benchmark Bayferrox 100 ‘M’ micronized series.

Combinations of the New Red pigments can also be used to reach the color spaces of existing, less sustainable, bright, yellow-shade reds that are currently available in the market. 

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Arkema Expands Distributor Network for Plastic Additives

Arkema Coating Resins, a business unit of Arkema, announced today the addition of two new distributors for the company’s line of performance enhancing additives used in PVC compounds and engineering plastics. Palmer Holland Inc. and OMYA will be joining G.E. Chaplin Inc. as authorized distributors of these Arkema products worldwide.

“By expanding our distribution network, we can better meet growing demand for these products,” Michael Wurst, North American Market Manager for Arkema Coating Resins Plastics Additives, explained. “It also allows us to tap into the specialized strengths of our current and new distribution partners to provide the best possible service and products based on application and market needs.”

Palmer Holland will be responsible for Arkema plastic additives used in Engineering Resins, as well as Biostrength®plastic additives used in PLA compounds. OMYA will be responsible for additives used in PVC compounds for rigid and opaque applications. G.E. Chaplin Inc. will provide additives used in PVC compounds for flexible and calendered sheet applications, as well as transparent PVC applications.

Arkema manufactures products for these markets globally from its facilities in Mobile, AL and Visslingen, The Netherlands. The new distribution agreements begin on April 1, 2016 for OMYA and April 11, 2016 for Palmer Holland Inc.


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Arkema Plastic Additves Brochure


About Arkema

A designer of materials and innovative solutions, Arkema shapes materials and creates new uses that accelerate customer performance. Our balanced business portfolio spans high-performance materials, industrial specialties, and coating solutions. Our globally recognized brands are ranked among the leaders in the markets we serve. Reporting annual sales of €7.7 billion in 2015, we employ approximately 19,000 people worldwide and operate in close to 50 countries. We are committed to active engagement with all our stakeholders. Our research centers in North America, France, and Asia concentrate on bio-based products, new energies, solutions for electronics, potable water management, lightweight materials and 3D design materials, building performance and insulation. For the latest,