From Plants to Planks, Soy-Based Polyurethane Makes Wood Shine

May, 2013

Increased regulations and concerns over volatile organic compounds (VOCs) continue to make soy an environmentally friendly option for the coatings industry. Rust-Oleum has had success with soy products in the past and, with support from the United Soybean Board (USB), the company continues to expand its portfolio of soy-based urethanes, stains and water-based polyurethanes.

RustoleumOne of the most successful extensions of the company’s product portfolio is Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane. Developed for use on interior wood furniture applications, it was created to offer the same durability and chemical resistance as solvent-based material. As it turns out, the soy-based product performs even better.

Soy oil enables polyurethane to cure by oxidation and form a higher cross-link density. Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane is 33 percent more durable than the leading competitive polyurethane, according to independent lab tests.

“When we begin the formulation process, our primary goal is to ensure the soy-based product exhibits similar or better performance than other products,” Rust-Oleum R&D Technology Manager Zhigang Chen says. “It must be easy to use, and must cost the same or less. We also incorporate green-chemistry principles in the formulation process.”

Also called sustainable chemistry, green chemistry is a philosophy of chemical research and engineering that encourages the design of products and processes that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances. Unlike environmental chemistry, which focuses on reducing the use of pollutant chemicals in nature, green chemistry aims at reducing and preventing pollution at its source.

“We use soy oil to synthesize polymers, and try our best to use less toxic materials,” Chen says. “The process itself maximizes the amount of renewable raw material that ends up in the product, and, because it is soy, it is safer for humans, as well as the environment.”

The higher non-volatile-solids content of the coating also enables it to dry much more quickly than non-biobased products. This makes it possible to apply multiple coats in a single day and complete projects faster.

Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane brushes on just like solvent-based polyurethanes, providing a smooth brush feel and excellent flow and leveling. Priced competitively, the soy-based coating is available in gloss, semigloss and satin finishes, and easily cleans up with soap and water.

“Consumer response to the new product has been very positive,” says Chen.

Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane is available at Lowe’s. To learn more or to watch an application of Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane, visit www. rustoleumwood.com.

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