Innovating to deal with urban issues

October 02, 2018 | 10:32
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In the midst of frenetic urbanisation, the shift to renewable energy and decreasing the country’s carbon footprint is becoming more imperative. AkzoNobel, through innovative solutions, aims to play a key role in addressing these challenges.
innovating to deal with urban issues
Innovation is of foremost importance at AkzoNobel

Mounting pressure from urbanisation

According to the United Nations Chronicle, energy consumption and pollution are two critical issues urban communities have to face, which account for half of humanity, or 3.5 billion people. About 60-80 per cent of the world’s energy is consumed by cities, which is a dominant contributor to climate change.

The air quality in cities has deteriorated to such an alarming level that about 92 per cent of the world’s population breathes unsafe air and more than seven million people die of the effects annually, according to the World Health Organization.

Air pollution is one of the major environmental concerns in Vietnam, especially in large cities. According to a report on Vietnam’s urban environment by the Vietnam Environment Administration under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Hanoi is among the most heavily polluted cities in the world. Other major cities and provinces, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Haiphong, and Quang Ninh are also mentioned in the report.

Ground-breaking products to address the challenges

Being aware of the above threats, AkzoNobel is constantly developing better and more sustainable products, delivering essential ingredients, essential protection, and essential colour to help create more Human Cities around the world for a more liveable and inspiring life.

Notably, to support urban communities to combat pollution, AkzoNobel embarked on a programme to deliver a next-generation depolluting paint based on the photocatalytic technology of titanium dioxide. Absorbing photoactive titanium dioxide particles can be activated in the presence of oxygen and moisture to produce free radicals. These highly active radicals are capable of degrading pollutants like nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide, thereby contributing to the abatement of noxious emissions from motor vehicles and human activities.

While cleaning up the air, AkzoNobel’s photocatalytic paint can also deliver outstanding self-cleaning properties with low dirt pick-up to building facades. This eco-positive benefit derives from both the degradation of the dirt particle by radicals and the photo-induced super-hydrophilicity effect, which is manifested by a water-loving surface that allows rain to spread readily on the surface, under the dirt, suspend it, and wash it away.

To better the country’s energy efficiency and adapt in the storm of policy changes, the firm provides solutions to suppress heat outflow during winter with its Thermal Insulation Decorative Board systems and to reduce heat gain in buildings during summer through its Keep Cool offerings.

This Keep Cool technology is based on special pigments that have been selected based on their ability to reflect better in the near infrared region of the solar spectrum, which contributes to 40 per cent of solar energy. The result is that the surface can be 5 degrees lower than otherwise, leading to potential energy savings of 10-15 per cent for the building.

Along with these solutions, AkzoNobel has also successfully developed the first generation of paints that offer vivid colours and the ability to keep the surface cooler.

“At AkzoNobel, we are working every day to propose the most sustainable and highest-performing products to our customers. With their trust and support, we will continue to be a pioneer of sustainability and innovation in the market,” said Pamela Phua, general director of AkzoNobel Paints Vietnam. “We believe that we can play a role and bring innovative solutions to meet the ecological challenges of urbanisation.”

AkzoNobel, the Dutch manufacturing giant, is aware that innovation, in combination with the continued advancement of science and technology, are prerequisites to ensuring success. Thus, along with the focus on manufacturing high-quality products, AkzoNobel also focuses on investing in research and development. Its global research, development and innovation centre for exterior wall paints in Singapore is one of the most vibrant innovation hubs in Asia.

The company is already about to roll out the second generation of thermal energy management products, incorporating objects of the same size order as the wavelengths of light they intend to scatter, but with a refractive index very different from their surrounding medium. This permits light diffraction and the scattering back of part of the incoming energy.

AkzoNobel’s commitment to sustainability is evidenced by its consistently high ranking on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (featured in the top ten for 13 consecutive years) which is dedicated to continuously uncovering ways to deliver more with less.

By Kim Oanh

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