Specialty chemicals, also referred to as effect or performance chemicals, are high value and often custom manufactured materials, which provide unique properties or performance effects to materials or formulations. Examples include specialty polymers, catalysts, elastomers, surfactants, fragrances, waxes, flocculants and rheology modifiers.
As the name implies specialty or performance chemicals are designed to provide some functional benefit or performance attribute to a formulation or product. To achieve this, it is necessary to use high performance analytical tools to characterize material or formulation properties.
A range of complementary technologies and solutions can be used to assist development of exciting new products and to improve process and manufacturing efficiency. These include solutions for
- > Phase identification and assessment of crystal structure in crystalline and semi-crystalline polymers and components
- > Elemental composition and impurities determination, including catalyst and catalyst residues in many products
- > Determining molecular weight and molecular structure of polymers and waxes
- > Measuring the size of powders, emulsions and dispersions, from nanometers to millimeters
- > Assessing flow properties, viscoelastic characteristics and material transitions such as melting and curing
- > Evaluating component interactions, optimizing dispersion stability or promoting flocculation
These technologies are used to support innovation, formulation development and product quality in the following key sectors. Other related sectors include biotechnology, waxes, fillers and additives, pulp and paper.
There is a need to better understand and optimize both agrochemical formulation and production process to meet the requirements for improved agrochemical performance, efficiency and safety. A range of solutions covering powder, liquid, dispersion and elemental analysis can help optimize agrochemical products in terms of quicker formulation development, better quality control or more efficient manufacturing.
Catalyst dosing, activity tuning and particle size (surface area) are essential for optimizing catalyst quality, performance and working life. Many solutions are used to monitor and control the fabrication and use of catalytic materials to help meet these requirements.
Paints and Coatings
Paints and coatings are multi component formulations that combine many components including polymers, pigments, surfactants and solvents to give the required performance and functionality. Analytical solutions can be used to characterize these individual components as well as their interactions in the formulation, helping to support material, product and process development.
Inks and Pigments
Inks are complex dispersions or emulsions consisting of dyes or pigments, and polymers or curing agents suspended within a continuous phase which must be combined in such a way as to give a printable ink with the required print performance. Solutions can be used for assessing ink components and ink formulations to optimize properties such as jetting, stability, film formation and opacity.
Adhesives and Sealants
Adhesives and sealants are complex formulations used to bind substrates or seal joints or gaps. They come in different forms but are commonly dispersions containing polymeric materials or curing agents, surfactants and solvents. Analytical solutions are commonly used to assess the characteristics of component materials and relate these to product properties such as tack, stability and ease of processing.
Industrial detergents and surfactants
Industrial detergents and surfactants are used as cleaning agents, wetting agents, dispersants and liquid structurants. New technologies are used to characterize the size, charge, thermodynamics and rheology of surfactant and micellar solutions for various applications.
Greases and lubricants
Greases and lubricants are primarily uses to reduce friction between moving parts but also to keep out contaminants or prevent moisture ingress. Technologies are used to analyze additives in lubricating oils and greases and to evaluate and control rheological properties to give the required functionality and performance.