Coatings industry likes what it sees with high linoleic soybean oil performance in paints and coatings

Guelph ON, 8 January 2019 – A speciality soybean variety developed at the University of Guelph is showing promise as the oil base for paints and coatings.

Oilseed Innovation Partners (OIP) has been working with manufacturers of alkyd resins – a key ingredient in alkyd oil paints used generally for building exteriors or in baseboard or primer applications – to performance-test the oil from this new University of Guelph soybean variety which is high in linoleic fatty acid.

The oil has a fatty acid profile that is approximately 33 per cent higher in linoleic acid versus commodity soybean oil; all other fatty acid levels, including saturates, are lower. This gives it 12 per cent more double bonds, making it more reactive and therefore a better ingredient in the manufacture of the alkyd resins used in coatings and paints.

“We worked with a leading coatings company OPC Polymers to conduct various trials and tests using the high linoleic soybean oil in various resins and paints to evaluate how it performs compared to conventional soybean oil, as well as linseed and sunflower oil,” explains Rob Roe, Director of Bioproduct Development with Oilseed Innovation Partners. “The company evaluated the resin and paint made from the oil looking at important characteristics like drying time, hardness at various points of drying, corrosion resistance and what colour the resin is when it’s dry.”

According to Roe, the high linoleic oil was superior to conventional soybean oil and performed as well or better in the trials than other oils like sunflower and linseed, which bodes well for future product development.

Roe and OIP board member Rick Heggs then used that information to find and interest additional companies in doing further exploratory work with the oil. As a result, OIP is now working with three additional major coatings companies and North Dakota State University, all of which found superior performance and have confirmed interest in continuing to develop the resins and paints using the oil.

“Alkyd manufacturers are looking to create products to address niche market needs, such as low colour to go into white or off-white material, which requires an oil that is water white and doesn’t turn yellow when heat treated,” says Heggs, adding that while both safflower and sunflower oils fulfill those characteristics, they’re high-priced.

“We have found the high linoleic has good colour stability and dries fast – as fast in our trials as linseed oil – which means people can cut back on the amount of accelerators needed,” he says. “All in all the alkyd industry is looking for next generation products to maintain or increase their market share and this oil is cost effective and has good properties.”

The oil demand for alkyd paints and coatings applications is approximately 112,000 tonnes of vegetable oils (soybean, sunflower and linseed). OIP’s analysis and market research points to a possible 15 per cent market share for the oil, which would require an estimated 85,000 acres of this new purpose-grown Identity Preserved soybean variety that will drive incremental revenue from premiums paid to growers and increased margins for processing.

OIP has also been working to find a seed company to take over commercialization and further breeding of the variety and a processing partner to crush the beans, extract the oil and refine it.

“We have learned an awful lot about how this oil compares to commodity soy, linseed and sunflower oils and are now preparing for an expanded demonstration phase,” says Roe.

The variety was first discovered two decades ago by renowned University of Guelph soybean breeder Dr. Gary Ablett and has since been further developed by fellow Guelph soybean researcher Dr. Istvan Rajcan.

“We’re seeing growth in the use of soybean oil in paints and coatings, and the potential of this new high linoleic oil for industrial applications is promising,” says OIP CEO Jeff Schmalz.

OIP has a mandate to encourage and grow both industrial and food-based market opportunities for Canadian oilseeds. The organization receives funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.