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Jim Reader - Optimizing Pigment Dispersions Using Surface Active Additives


Jim Reader - Optimizing Pigment Dispersions Using Surface Active Additives


Jim Reader

Lead Chemist

Evonik Corporation

Phone: 610-481-7380

Website: www.evonik.cpm

Co-Authors: Michael Peck




The formulation of aqueous pigment dispersions is enabled by the use of surface active agents to wet, disperse, and stabilize solid particles or pigments in water as well as to provide letdown compatibility, defoaming, and application performance.  Typically, formulations contain at least two, and often three or more, surface-active components that are combined to provide the optimal properties.  These different components can provide synergistic benefits, but, just as often, they can function antagonistically, requiring extensive trial and error testing by a formulator to identify a final formulation.  Understanding the functionality of the different surface-active components is a critical first step in streamlining formulation development, minimizing development work, and effectively trouble-shooting performance hiccups.

A complicating factor in this understanding is the proprietary composition of many additives and pigment surface chemistries.  The absence of this important information severely inhibits a formulator’s ability to apply both theory and experience from one formulation to the next.  “Black box” testing and trial and error become a leading method of product development and require a significant amount of work to be done to develop every formulation.  In spite of this limitation, there do exist ways to streamline this work.  Although exact additive chemistries may be trade secrets, general chemistry classes and attributes are often shared by suppliers, and this information enables some general guidelines to be proposed.  The form and function of the different surface-active additives can be described generally and their probable interactions predicted, thus providing a pathway for elimination of low value experimentation and faster formulation development.



Jim Reader graduated from the University of Warwick (UK) in 1988 with a Ph.D. in Chemistry. He joined Air Products and Chemicals in 1988 in Manchester (UK) as a Research Chemist and later an Application Development Chemist for the Epoxy Additives business. He joined the Specialty Additives business in 1996 and has worked in Europe and Asia before moving to Allentown in 2008. He joined Evonik Corporation as a Lead Chemist in January 2017. He has extensive experience in the both the development and application of surfactants and defoamers in many different applications including paints, coatings, graphic arts, adhesives, concrete admixtures and the production of latex gloves.

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