A Greener Solution to Paints and Coatings
Alyson O'DonnellUNH Organic Chemistry 2017art679@wildcats.unh.edu
Paints are of high interest when it comes to greener technology because of their potent effects the toxins have on the environment. Paint has been recorded as one of the top 5 most toxic compounds due to its VOC’s (volatile organic components). For years now, the painting industry has been investigating ways to produce more organic alternatives to the conventional toxic paint. The reason for this is it can cause disease when inhaled on a regular basis, specicially skin or respiratory disease. This company, Nanotech industries of Daly City, CA, has partnered with Green Polyurethane, to find a solution to this problem by producing the first ever hybrid polyurethane. The product that Nanotechnology has produced is continually referred to as HNIPU – hybrid non-isocyanate polyurethane. This compound combines chemical resistance with durability. Its production is 30% more energy efficient and eliminates the use of harmful chemicals in production. It not only is advantageous in those ways, but for the consumer, it is 30-60% less costly. This paint not only reduces toxins and improved its effect on the environment but it is also easy on the wallet by reducing cost by 30-60% (2).

I’ve never liked the smell of paint, and whenever I was to inhale the smell my mind would immediately congregate towards the idea that this was somehow harmful to my body. The reason I took interest in this topic is because I think that it is a common product that many people in the world could benefit from a more organic, less harmful product type. Although, my family nor myself are involved in the paint industry, that doesn’t mean we don’t pick up the paint brush once in a while to paint our own house. This is a common practice as it is easy, and to some, enjoyable. Unbeknown to many, it could cause many health concerns in the long term.

Isocyanates are highly reactive chemicals that are found in many every day products such as paint, sun screen, insulation and in the automobile industry. This company focuses in on how they can effectively be replaced in the manufacturing and production process. Isocyanates can severe damage to the skin if one comes in direct contact with them, but more importantly, they can damage the respiratory tract which can exasperate asthma attacks. Death from severe asthma attacks due to isocyanate exposure have been documented. It can also induce pulmonary edema and other adverse health effects. Further, they damage the environment by polluting streams and other bodies of water which can in turn effect the marine life living in those bodies of water. Also, by releasing this harmful chemically into the environment and the air we breathe every day, it is increasing our everyday chances of being exposed to isocyanates resulting in asthma and other respiratory issues (1).

The company of interest for my project is Nanotech Industries - Hybrid Coating Technology, who won an award for their discovery: The EPA’s Prestigious 20th annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2015. They won this award when they presented the first ever hybrid Polyurethane paint and coating technology. Their product claims to be the first ever, safer alternative that is plant based for use on floors, furniture and in foam insulation. This technology eliminates the use of harmful chemicals such as isocyanates which can cause asthma or induce asthma in those already diagnosed. It reduced both the VOCs and the cost and is safer for the people who use it as well as the environment it is presented in (2). To learn more about the company click on their logo!

hybrid coating tech.png


To learn more about how the harmful substance isocyanate is synthesized click on the following picture:

Action Project
Q: How did you first learn about “green chemistry”? Explain the original idea, and how this came about? Who's idea was it? Why did they think of it? How long did it take to come up with the process?
  • Dr. Oleg Figovsky is the director of research at Hybrid Coating Technology. He has over 40 years of experience in the field and is the one who obtained the patent for this new technology. He is the chairman on UNESCO "Green Chemistry" and is the one who first thought to create this type of technology. He is also a professor at Voronezh University.

Q: Describe the steps in synthesizing this type of coating in a laboratory? In what ways is it safer for the environment and for the human population? Were you able to completely eliminate byproduct waste? Have you had to make any adjustments to the process since the beginning?
  • It is safer for the consumer and the environment as a whole because the manufacturing process has take the conventional use of polyurethane and epoxide making it 100x less toxic. Their product has ZERO isocyanates, SERO VOC's, and minimal to almost no odor. Their technology and product has been reviewed by regulatory agencies and is highly recommended.

Q: Is there a lot of competition in this field? Do other companies use the same process for their 'green' paints and coatings?
  • They are the first company that was able to COMPLETELY eliminate isocyanates, making it non-toxic, odorless and 2x more water resistant than other products of its type on the market.

Q: Are there any future plans to expand the company to more products? Are you interesting in greening other unrelated products?
  • The main goal of the future of their business is to get their message out to the population that their product is more environmentally friendly, cost friendly and finally, consumer friendly.


The results of this new technology is reduced toxins, reduce waste, lower environmental impact and overall better quality of product. In addition to all those qualities of this product, there is no addition cost to this product! The following pie graph shows where the most polyurethane is consumed in this industry. Coatings, which this company focuses on, uses 15% of the over polyurethane used! By reducing that number, it can start to reduce the overall polyurethane used. Then, other industries will start to follow their lead once they find out the environmental and company benefits that this product allows (4).

use of PUs.png

If we look globally, coatings use about 19% of the total polyurethane produced. Again, if Hybrid Coating Technology is able to reduce this number significantly, other companies will start to see its impact and follow their lead (4).
production of PU .png

Connection to Organic/Green Chemistry
The EPA defined ‘Green Chemistry’ asthe design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances." Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, use, and ultimate disposal. Green chemistry is also known as sustainable chemistry.” And there are 12 principals that the EPA outline that can be found by going to their website: EPA 12 Guidelines(6)

Of those two guidelines, this company incorporates at least 8 out of the 12 principals (1-6, 11 and 12). As for eliminating waste, the company was able to completely eliminate the use of isocyanates throughout the entire manufacturing process. Isocyanate is considered a toxic chemical, making this a greener solution. Further, most paints and coatings contain volatile organic compounds (often referred to as VOC’s), which can create that potent smell that paint gives off. With the elimination of VOC’s they were also able to minimize the odor (6).

This is the first compony of its kind in the industry that was successfully able to pull of an isocyanate-free polyurethane through all of its manufacturing and production. It is reducing its carbon footprint, reducing its harm to the consumer, reducing adverse health effects and finally it is even lowering its cost to the consumer! Take a look at this video, an interview with their strategic advisor who answers all the questions about this company: Hybrid Coating Technology.


Finally, what is unique about this company is that by changing the way the product is manufactured, they were able to increase employees’ salaries across the board. The cost of the product itself is lower to the consumer, and the cost of the manufacturing is also lower, creating a higher overall net income. Further, they were able to make favorable schedule changes and increase security for the plant. The objectives of this company are not make the most money for themselves, but to find ways to enhance their product in an environmentally friendly way which produce opportunities to increase their employee pay and benefits (2)!

  1. CDC. Isocyanate. 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retreived December 15th 2017 from: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/isocyanates/default.html
  2. Hybrid Coating Technology. (2014, November 2014). Hybrid Coating Technology. Youtube. Retrieved December 15 2017 from: https://youtu.be/xnCJhcNqg2c
  3. Nanotech Industries International (2017). Green Polyurethane Technology. Retreived from http://www.hybridcoatingtech.com/technology.htm
  4. Rus, S.B.M. Effects of UV Irradiation on Waste Biopolymer Based on vibration Characterisation, Mechanical and Physical Properties. University of Tun hessein Onn Malaysia. http://eprints.uthm.edu.my/7990/1/SHAIQAH_BINTI_MOHD_RUS.pdf
  5. Shotwell, H.P. Sheriff, R.E. (2016, June 21). Hazards of Isocyanates. Atlantic Environmental Incorporated. Retreived December 15th, 2017 from: https://www.atlenv.com/hazards-of-resins-and-isocyanates/
  6. United State Environmental Protection Agency (January 19, 2017). Basics of Green Chemistry. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry/basics-green-chemistry