Building strong partnerships: DIA’33 in specialty chemicals industry

Today, our strength and portfolio of additives and solutions differentiate DIA’33 from our competitors. We have gained mileage and success due to our firm focus and admiration towards high-performance additives and specialties, remarks Madiha Naz, director, technical support and product development, DIA’33, in an interview given to Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.

Madiha Naz, director, technical support and product development, DIA’33.
Madiha Naz, director, technical support and product development, DIA’33.

Can you please explain the role played by a particular specialty chemical in dramatically improving human wellbeing?

There are numerous examples where specialty chemicals improved human life and wellbeing dramatically and has enhanced living standards beyond human expectations in the last two decades.

Solutions based on specialty surfactants contribute to the effectiveness of detergents and hygiene products. Polyamide and intelligent fibres are used by the textile industry to create high-performance clothing, specialty polymers for biocompatible medical implants, and synthesis intermediates and sodium bicarbonate for effervescent tablets.

Specialty polymers and composites improve the performance and contribute significantly to lighter vehicles in automotive and aerospace industries. Specialty chemicals also propose solutions for reducing air, water and soil pollution. There are many other sectors where specialty chemicals and polymers play significant and important roles.

Electronics, aviation, automotive and medical industries heavily depend upon specially additives, which enabled humans to replace metals with advanced engineering plastics, replacing metals, reducing dead weight and adding longevity and strength. Silicon technology has transformed medical technology to perform unbelievable surgeries and human repairs. With advanced chemical additives, food can be easily preserved, saved, transported and modified to suit human conditions and requirements.

Can you please explain the role played by a particular specialty chemical in dramatically changing the course of the chemical industry?

The simplest example is ‘chemical element silicon’, which can be found in every grain of sand, playing a prominent role in capturing solar energy. And, poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA) is an unprecedented world novelty in the acrylic glass market. Engineering plastics offer high-performance materials used in automotive and transportation, construction, energy, consumer goods, etc., and this is nothing but polyamides and its intermediates.

Special chemical products protect plants from pest infestation, increase crop production through the use of high-yield seeds and fertilisers, and slow soil erosion. Specialty polymer membrane filters that remove impurities; materials for desalination, turning salt water into fresh water that is suitable for human consumption; and seawater desalination and wastewater reclamation technologies have shown their effectiveness in helping to solve water security and water shortage challenges around the world.

Methacrylate monomers like methyl methacrylate (MMA) and butyl methacrylate (BMA) offers an extensive range of more than 50 specialty methacrylate monomers for the optimisation of important coating properties – like weather-ability, chemical and scratch resistance, wet adhesion, and durability.

Can you please elaborate on a key innovation in the specialty chemical industry in the recent past?

Innovation means thinking ‘outside the box’. Innovation is the key to future growth and profitability. This also helps in modifying specific products, enhance it further and customise solutions market-wise. Let us take few examples, which have changed chemical industry completely – biodegradable specialty chemicals for sustainability and environmental friendly solutions. One application of this special surfactants is to clean up oil spills; they help contract oil slicks, or push separate slicks together, in order to make it easier to collect, or burn, making cleaning up environmental disasters so much easy.

Nanotechnology revolution, the remarkable discoveries of two-dimensional, single atom materials, has resulted in new materials that are lighter, stronger, more malleable, more effective, and more temperature-resistant than any chemical products in history. Nanocrystals used in solar paints, solar panels and carbon nanoparticles are an alternative to activated charcoal catalysts, carbon nanotube formulations for coatings and nanocomposite barrier films for food packaging. There are so many examples.

Thermochromic materials and coatings for smart buildings and defence applications have numerous applications in energy management of commercial and residential buildings, protection of exposed electronics against heat damage and infra-red camouflage for military assets. Innovative special wall coatings offer natural air conditioning. These new innovations help us to design buildings and structures that are more sustainable, healthier to live in and are more energy-efficient construction materials.

Why specialty chemicals are important for DIA’33?

DIA33 is built upon the concept of speciality chemicals and since its inception, it has kept its focus on technology-driven products. Its founding member, Nadeem Raza, left his career as a practising civil engineer to become a chemical person. It was only due to his inclination towards high-performance products that he encountered while pursuing his construction career.

Raza firmly believed that promoting technology and technologically driven products by assisting the blenders and formulators to adopt and enhance their end product’s performance, could be most gratifying. And since the company’s launch, the focus remained on additives and solutions, and it was only in the later stage that DIA’33 embraced commercial products to boost its revenue stream.

Which are the companies with which DIA’33 is associated in specialty chemicals?

DIA’33’s strength in specialty chemicals is mainly driven from its key partners, which, to name few, are Evonik, Allnex, Honeywell, Munzing, Agrana, CFF, Kukdo, Valvoline, Rotec, etc. These companies are amongst world’s top-ranking specialty chemical firms and are recognised globally for their performance products and solutions.

Which are the most important specialty chemicals for DIA’33?

The demand for high-performance coatings is increasing due to various applications in the automotive, aerospace, oil and gas, mining, marine, paper and pulp, and architectural and construction industries, to protect metal materials, tanks, concrete structures, pipes, and processing equipment. The growing power sector is fuelling demand for higher performance chemicals. As the trend to improve the aesthetic value of constructions and architectures grows, the demand to use high-performance coatings increases.

So, DIA’33’s focus is also the same. This year, our core focus would be Allnex additives, Agrana starch ether, anti-corrosive paints from Promindsa Pigments, metal surface treatment solutions from Honeywell additives, and innovative additives from Evonik for building protection, waterproofing and water-repellents.

With innovative products, Evonik offers a wide range of tailor-made ‘problem solvers’ for the construction, coatings and many other industries. The product range of Evonik embraces defoamers, deaerators, wetting and dispersing additives, surface control additives, substrate wetting additives, radiation-curing additives, rheological additives, adhesion promoters, hydrophobing agents, anti-settling agents, anti-oxidants as well as different kinds of resins. Evonik is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals.

Allnex offers an innovative family of low-VOC, low-odour, waterborne epoxy, acrylic and alkyd resins for field, and factory-applied coatings for metal and concrete. These performance-driven, one-component and two-component primers, intermediate coats and topcoats help coating manufacturers.

There is a very special product from Promindsa – Micronox ON16 – a product designed for the reduction of H2S in the biogas obtained in anaerobic biomethanisation plants. KUKDO offers special epoxy systems and complete solutions for various applications, including advance powder coatings, 3D flooring, water-borne systems, and more.

What is the future role of the specialty chemicals in the global chemical industry landscape?

Specialty chemicals market currently stands at over $700bn and is likely to surpass the $1,000bn mark by 2023. Several specialty chemical segments are projected to grow faster than the average. The specialty chemicals market is expected to register a CAGR of 5.08% during the forecast period of 2018-2023. Asia-Pacific is estimated to lead the market owing to its rapid economic and industrial growth, especially in the paints and coatings industry segment.

The demand for these chemicals will come from various industrial verticals as specialty chemicals are known to improve product performance. The rise of manufacturing sector in the developing countries is also expected to boost the global specialty chemicals market.

The construction sector is under high chemicals demand, to impart additional protection to buildings, reduce consumption of water and cement while erecting projects, and boost overall building lifespan. Smart buildings by using bio-aggregates is another innovative step towards sustainable houses – this can improve indoor climate of a building by helping to maintain a steady temperature and humidity level.

3D printing technology is another fast-emerging dynamic future trend. This transformational industry, ranging from prototype building to custom production, builds parts layer by layer via photo-reactive resin curing with UV laser, or other similar power sources. Photo-curable resins in the following technologies are used like acrylates, cationic epoxies, thiols and reactive diluents. Demand for sustainable energy is witnessing an increase worldwide. The solar energy market is huge, and the recent growth has been many times more than before and it will continue to grow further.

Nanotechnology and specialty chemicals based on this technology will continue to grow, and many nanocomposite materials for coatings with unprecedented combinations of properties are already in the market; nanotechnology-based conversion coatings for metals are also existing.

Aerospace sealants that are cured by using UV light, allows for substantial reductions in process time, waste and costs, while increasing efficiency. Instant UV-cured sealants with added advantages and thermochromic materials and coatings for smart buildings are some of the future promises of the speciality chemicals industry.

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