Solvents an Attractive Option When Done RightFri, 09/01/2017 - 23:23
Paint processes consume more energy and water than many others along a manufacturing line. Although waterborne solutions have been widely implemented as a way to reduce a company’s environmental footprint, effective and easy- drying solvents can still be an attractive option under the right conditions.
“The paint industry is looking to eliminate volatile organic component emissions,” says Eugenio Floresgómez, Director of Sales and Branches at Pochteca, a raw material supplier with more than 28 years in the market. “However, if the painting process is done in a closed area, it is more efficient to use solvent-based products than water-based.”
Solvent-borne applications do not require as much temperature control as waterborne paint and their volatile nature allows for easier drying. Executives such as Frank Hezel, Business Vice President Coatings of BASF Mexicana, agree that depending on conditions, solvents might be more environmentally friendly when considering the entire paint process.
According to Floresgómez, many companies started migrating to water-based paint as a way to solve the problem of volatile organic compounds. Instead, Pochteca found a way to maintain the advantages of solvent-borne processes while still offering an environmentally friendly solution. “We developed our ‘Closed Loop’ solvent recovery systems as a way to reuse waste in the production of new solvent,” says Floresgómez. Pochteca’s solution allows companies to minimize waste in their paint shops, while it helps the company rationalize the use of raw materials while reducing costs and increasing efficiency in paint and solvent manufacturing.
“Every time you reuse something, you have implicit savings just by eliminating waste,” he says. Floresgómez adds that there are already companies in the market that offer waste-recovery services but they are third parties, completely independent from product and raw material 203 suppliers. That gives Pochteca an added advantage by offering an integrated solution. Solvent recovery was the first step for Pochteca because now, according to Floresgómez, the company wants to grow its business in the waste-management segment. “We are actively looking for new clients in this segment,” he says. “We are focusing on solvents but our goal is to also recover battery, metal, plastic and paper waste.” Floresgómez explains that most hazardous materials are recovered and then confined but Pochteca’s goal is to reuse as much of this waste as possible to optimize production costs.
Pochteca has made solvent recovery one of its main priorities. The company has already invested in five recovery plants in Leon and it has created business relationships with companies like Mazda and GM to support their paint processes. Floresgómez says the company remains open to new potential clients. “We would like to work with Nissan and other automakers but it is difficult to integrate our technology when companies have not built their plants with a recovery system in mind,” he says. “Nissan CIVAC, for example, would require complicated renovations due to the age of the plant.”
To maximize its business potential, the company is focusing on growing within its existing client base and taking advantage of new plants being built in Mexico. “Our clients are realizing that the benefits are not in the solvent per se but in how efficient and environmentally friendly they can make their processes,” says Floresgómez. He is confident about the technology Pochteca can offer to the industry and the company has detected strong growth potential in Puebla, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, Sonora, Queretaro and Guadalajara. His only concern is the industry’s capacity to embrace these solutions. “Our offering, though competitive, is still new to the Mexican market,” he says. “Change takes time.”