Head of RSL's R & D department, industrial chemist Ali Kalantar, talks about the context for finding a cleaner, greener solution - Elladur™ - and the benefits to the marketplace.
Whatever we come up with in an industrial laboratory it has to work in a real life site scenario.
So we are always mindful when we look at new formulations on what differences there might be in a controlled environment versus an actual site situation, where there are many differing circumstances and indeed environmental conditions.
Elladur was developed and trialled working closely with customers in the field to understand concerns and challenges and find solutions that would work in many different scenarios and environments.
R & D work started in earnest in 2015 after the senior management team - led by RSL's MD Ivy Wroe - had seen a commercial opportunity to create a product range that can deal with the demands of modern construction whilst maintaining high performance and expectations.
One of the biggest issues with polysaspartics products is the short workable pot life. As it's a fast-curing technology you sometimes only have 3-4 minutes to mix and apply the materials. Any longer and it becomes sticky and unworkable.
One of the easy options to extend pot life was the addition of solvent, which then created further issues around odour making it pretty unpleasant to use.
Solvents also helped maintain viscosity and provided good wetting properties so it was not easy getting to grips with a new technology that did without them.
In developing Elladur we tackled these common complaints and we have succeeded - after two years of research and trial - to create a totally solvent-free system without the loss of performance.
Elladur has a good workable pot life with low odour and, without solvents; it is a much nicer product to use.
Why did we go to all the effort to make a completely solvent free product?
Several reasons, but one of the most compelling is its contribution to the life cycling of a building. Our Elladur range provides high performance flooring solutions in new build or refurbishment projects by allowing a fast return to service and not shutting areas down for any longer than they have to be.
It also improves the experience of contractors working with the product by reducing exposure limits and others working around the flooring install, as a low odour product causes less disruption for others working in close proximity.
Being solvent free Elladur can also - and probably most importantly - meet the demands of a top end, environmentally-friendly specification like BREEAM for the first time.
Previously architects often wrote specifications for a building requiring products with a low VOC (volatile organic compounds) content. This was very challenging for the marketplace if the VOC content restricted the performance of a product resulting in the use of inferior products. They ticked all the green boxes, but potentially could not perform in the long term.
This is what we - as a team of chemists at RSL - set out to try and resolve.
With our new solvent-free formulation the market can now respond with confidence to a stringent VOC specification without sacrificing performance. We are actually adding other performance parameters like fast curing, UV stable technologies.
This is what makes it a ground-breaking development.
We are now already working on the next generation of Elladur products to push boundaries for this state of the art technology even further - and in so doing help make Elladur™ the one range of fast curing coatings on every continent on the planet!