The Rise of Cellulose Paint: When the Desire to Go Green Hits the Specialty Chemicals Market

specialty chemicals
How can specialty chemicals companies take advantage of the opportunity offered by plant-based coatings and paints?
Image source: Flickr CC user Daniel R. Blume

Do you remember the housing market crash of 2008? Even if you didn’t work in real estate, it was hard to miss. Not only did it make major headlines, many in-progress home renovations were put up for sale and exciting commercial projects were halted indefinitely. We were certainly thrown into grim times.

Thankfully, those days are behind us. The housing market has been making modest but steady improvement over the past few years. At the very least, housing prices are up in many parts of the country, which is a good sign. After all, a healthy housing market has a positive effect on related industries—including the specialty chemicals market.

The Real Estate Market Can Influence the Popularity of Eco-friendly Specialty Chemicals

When considering green building, many typically think of construction materials and energy efficiency. What materials is a structure built with? What is a building’s carbon footprint when occupied? People are growing increasingly conscious of their effect upon the planet and it’s affecting all aspects of their life, from the dyes used on their clothes to recycling waste. It’s only inevitable that this would trickle down to how they view the homes they live in.

As a result, people are considering even the smallest details. For example, specialty chemicals like wood adhesives used during home construction or plant-based paint may not be the first things that pop into mind when you think of a green home, but they certainly have an impact. Today’s buyers are highly conscious of effects on both their personal health and environment, so they’ve become more interested in specialty chemicals that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to the perceived safety.

Since paint is one of the easiest ways to freshen up a home, there’s definitely a burgeoning market for low VOC paints and coatings. The trick, however, is to find a way to develop a desirable, eco-friendly paint coating product without sacrificing the qualities bestowed by VOCs. VOCs are usually added to paints to enhance their application.1 Even the biggest environmentalist isn’t going to want to use paint that doesn’t flow well from the brush or dries with an unattractive finish.

Plant-based Paints May Provide the Eco-Friendly Answer for the Specialty Chemicals Market

One innovation in this area may come from the most unlikely of sources: sugar beets. Sugar beets provide about 20% of the world’s sugar and the waste created by this process is usually made into cattle feed. But in addition to that, it can be used as a feedstock for a variety of materials ranging from concrete and cosmetics. The product also has another interesting benefit: when added to paint, it increases durability and improves application quality.2 This is exactly the kind of innovation needed to support a growing market in the specialty chemicals sector.

Cellulose paints and other plant-based coatings have applications beyond the construction industries and housing market. They can also be used in automotive and industrial sectors. In fact, studies predict the demand for eco-friendly paints and coatings will especially increase in Latin America and Asia.3

When it comes to developing paint and coating products that are lower in VOCs, scientists at specialty chemicals firms will need the right set of tools to support their research. This translates into more than managing their experiments and research and development workflow. It’s also having the ability to mine the results. Being able to visualize data, analyze it effectively and extract key insights are important steps of the product development process.

For paints and coatings, many traits need to be adjusted for. How long does the paint last? How durable is it? For example, can you use a sponge on it without ruining the finish? Does it flow smoothly or does it glop unattractively if you don’t apply fast enough? What kind of surfaces can you use it on? These factors only scratch the surface of information and variables that need to be tracked.

Is your specialty chemicals firm interested in developing products targeting the growing green sector? Consider utilizing the BIOVIA Experiment Knowledge Base, which can significantly support your efforts. It is a vital part of a complete laboratory informatics system that integrates seamlessly with your existing infrastructure. It also makes experimental planning and design easier and allows users to search data efficiently. Contact us today to learn more.

  1. “Using eco-friendly paints,” October 2, 2015,
  2. “Sugar beets a path of innovation,” September 22, 2015,
  3. “Cellulose Paints Market – Asia Is Expected to Experience High Growth Rates by 2020,” August 25, 2015,

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