CoatingsTech Comes to a Close


Yesterday (June 29), the American Coatings Association’s 2021 CoatingsTech Conference wrapped up after two days of short courses, keynotes and technical sessions.

This year’s theme, “Essential Coatings Technology: Supporting Tomorrow’s Sustainable Development Challenges Today,” featured a series of special lectures highlighting the latest new science and coatings technology developments, including advance notice on technology-forcing factors.

The event was hosted at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown hotel, in Pittsburgh, from June 28-29.

Keynote Speakers

On Monday (June 28), the conference opened up with Kurt Olson, Associate Director, Center for Macromolecular Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Presenting his keynote address, “The Role of the Coatings Industry in Attaining Global Sustainability,” Olson addressed specific actions the coatings industry can take to impact the world’s global need for sustainability.

“I really believe that we are at a tipping point, where sustainability is less about talk and more about action,” said Olsen. “We’re not done yet, but I’m optimistic that we can get better as we go along.”

Olsen is a leading industrial scientist, having invented 68 issued patents and currently has 12 patents pending, which have contributed to various technical advances in coatings technology including scratch-resistant automotive clear coats, waterborne coatings and powder coatings. He has also made contributions to more diverse technologies, such as TiO2 supply chain development, electrodeposition, photoresists, and resin and coating manufacturing.

Photos: Technology Publishing Co., American Coatings Association, 2021 CoatingsTech

On Monday (June 28), the conference opened up with Kurt Olson, Associate Director, Center for Macromolecular Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

As part of his speech, Olsen touched on battery coatings, additive manufacturing and coatings for pipe infrastructure development—all of which were incubated ideas at PPG, in addition to the various uses for PPG-produced graphene.

“So, what can the coatings community do?” Olsen asked, referring to the planet’s increased temperature, in addition to CO2 levels and other environmental concerns. “Well, we’ve all heard in the 12 principles of green chemistry that there are things we should consider. Another thing that is the tipping point to this, is that there is money to be made. If we do this correctly, money will drive the action.”

Olsen spent his entire career researching in the labs at PPG and held various polymer synthesis and research management roles over his 38-year career. He retired from PPG in 2019 as a corporate fellow. In the past, Olsen was awarded two R&D 100 awards, a PACE award, Carnegie Science award, a Pittsburgh award and was even elected to PPG’s “collegium,” which recognizes the highest honor given to a PPG technical associate.

A Pennsylvania native, Olsen earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Ursinus College in 1976 and a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Florida in 1981.

“We have a big job to do. Better get to work!” he concluded.

On Tuesday (June 29), the conference kicked off with a continental breakfast and morning address. This was then followed by the presenting of the “Mattiello Award Lecture: Driving Sustainable Development and Performance Breakthrough of Waterborne Coatings – An Industrial Chemist’s Experiences and Reflection” to Wenjun Wu, Research Fellow and Global Waterborne Innovation Leader, Arkema Coating Resins.

In her presentation and acceptance, Wu focused on the development of emulsion polymers to meet increasing demands for greater performance and sustainability, highlighting that emulsion polymers, encompassing vast resin chemistries, are the cornerstone of waterborne paint formulations.

Pictured: Scott Braithwaite, Director of Product Stewardship, Science & Technology, ACA; Wenju Wu, Ph.D., Research Fellow and Global Waterborne Innovation Leader, Arkema Coating Resins; and Ramesh Subramanian, Director, Liquid Resins & Additives (LRA) Americas, allnex.

“The continental shift in sustainability as consumers and more businesses prepare sustainable materials in health and for environmental impacts, I think there is going to be a very big event coming, just like the VOC regulations in the 70s,” said Wu. “Companies are actively supporting new and actually encompassing sustainability initiatives.”

Wu has 26 years of experience in industrial coatings and, over the course of her career, has commercialized over 20 new binders and additives for application in coatings, personal care and aircraft anti-icing fluids. Prior to receiving the Mattiello Award, Wu was also the recipient of the Society of Cosmetic Chemist Award, the Room Foundation Award, American Coatings Association Best Paper Award, Siltech Best Innovative Paper Award and the 2019 European Coatings Award.

In addition, Wu has also received 39 internal awards, which include two best paper awards and two technology canter awards from the Dow Chemical Company and is a two-time recipient of the Arkema CEO Performance awards.

“Supporting sustainability initiatives is becoming an industry-wide trend that creates opportunity, but also calls for a collaborative innovation ecosystem,” Wu concluded.

Wu received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1995.

2021 Best Paper Award

On Tuesday, ACA Chair Ramesh Subramanian presented the 2021 CoatingsTech Best Paper Award. This year, the award was given to Hamidreza Asemani for his paper, “Advanced Duel-curable Coatings Obtained from Multi-Functional Non-Isocyanate Polyurethane Oligomers.” The paper was co-authored by Professor Vijay Mannari of Eastern Michigan University, who also directed this research as part of Asemani's Ph.D. research endeavors.

His paper was judged by six of ACA’s session chairs and was accompanied by a cash prize.

Pictured: Scott Braithwaite, Director of Product Stewardship, Science & Technology, ACA; Hamidreza Asemani, R&D Scientist, Rust-Oleum; and and Ramesh Subramanian, Director, Liquid Resins & Additives (LRA) Americas, allnex.

Asemani is a Research and Development Scientist at Rust-Oleum Corporation and Ph.D. fellow at Eastern Michigan University. Prior to his position, Asemani worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Amirkabir University of Technology, a graduate research intern at Ingevity and most recently, worked as a course instructor at the Eastern Michigan University.

Asemani’s paper addressed how solvent-based, two-component polyurethane (2k-NIPU systems) based on the reaction of cyclic carbonates and amines have emerged as a promising option to meet the on-site application and performance requirements for many coating applications. In his presentation, he also noted some drawbacks such as low reactivity at ambient temperature, higher usage of volatile organic compounds due to increased viscosity, and lower crosslinking densities, due to reduced functionality of the oligomers.

Asemani earned both his bachelor’s and master's degrees in polymer engineering from Tehran’s Polytechnic University in Iran. In 2020, he received his Ph.D. from Eastern Michigan University in Technology, Polymers and Coatings.

Sessions & Networking Opportunities

Prior to the conference’s opening, the ACA outlined a preliminary program, which included three pre-conference short courses to choose from. Afterward, attendees joined Subramanian and Scott Braithwaite, Director of Product Stewardship, Science & Technology, ACA, for the conference’s welcome address.

“The 2021 CoatingsTech Conference offers industry experts—including coatings manufacturers, their suppliers, universities and government representatives—a forum to share new research and pursue continuing education and skills development,” the ACA reported prior to the conference’s launch.

“In addition to technology-focused sessions, the conference will also address regulatory and legislative developments impacting manufacturing, product innovation and sustainability. Conference sessions will be categorized to provide attendees with an opportunity to focus on individual interests and specialization.”

Following the welcoming address, Olsen presented his keynote, after which a variety of 30-minute concurrent technical sessions took place, ending ended at 5:15 p.m. As the sessions came to an end for the first day, attendees were showed to a networking reception outside on the hotel’s patio, complete with drinks and appetizers.

By the second day, attendees were introduced to ACA’s recipient of its 2021 Best Paper Award, which was followed by a presentation presented by Mattiello Award recipient, Wu.

Followed by a block of technical sessions, attendees were given a second opportunity to mingle with industry professionals during its networking luncheon. Afterward, technical sessions resumed until the conference’s closing.

Throughout the two days, attendees were given the choice to attend various sessions broken into categories related to bio-based materials, resin technology I, resin technology II and industry innovation, all of which centering on the conference’s theme of essential coatings technology and sustainability.

American Coatings Show 2022

Making its announcement at the CoatingsTech conference, the ACA revealed the dates and location of its 2022 American Coatings Show + Conference, which is slated to take place April 5-7, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

For the event, the ACA, in partnership with Vincentz Network, has issued a call for abstracts for research to be presented at ACC. For the presentations, conference organizers are seeking criteria based on scientific advancement, novelty and potential value to the industry.

Important deadlines include:

  • Sept. 24: Submission of title and abstracts;
  • Nov. 1: Notification of acceptance to speakers; and
  • Jan. 25, 2022: Submission of full technical papers for the conference proceedings

Recipients of the American Coatings Award will receive a $2,500 prize and an attractive sculpture. For more information, click here.

Editor's Note: This article was updated to include the sentence, "The paper was co-authored by Professor Vijay Mannari of Eastern Michigan University, who also directed this research as part of Asemani's Ph.D. research endeavors.” The article was updated at 3:31 p.m. on June 30, 2021.


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