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Novel Defoamer for Glossy Water-Based Paints


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Novel Defoamer for Glossy Water-Based Paints

ICL Innovation, a technology incubator for the ICL group, is looking for a novel defoamer formulation or technology for use in glossy water-based paints with low pigment volume concentration (PVC). The solution must effectively prevent or destroy foam, be silicone and mineral-oil free, and not cause surface defects in the finished coating.


Architectural and industrial paints and coatings are widely used to coat exterior and interior sides of homes and buildings as well as industrial equipment. Foam is frequently generated during production, mixing, and application processes involving these coatings and this foam can interfere in the formulations’ production and use. The formation of foam can occur when a gas, typically air, is introduced to a formulation though any of several processes. The foam is stabilized due to the presence of necessary surfactants in the formulation.  Defoamers are surface-active agents that are added to curtail unwanted foams by preventing their formation and destroying them after formation.

Defoamers for use in water-based paint formulations can be classified into two broad categories – silicone and non-silicone – with silicone defoamers dominated by polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and non-silicone defoamers mainly composed of mineral oils, vegetable/natural oils or white oils. The focus for this Challenge is on non-silicone defoamers for water-based formulations. Typical defoamer concentration is 0.3-0.6 weight percent. Paints with medium or high pigment volume concentration (PVC) have matte or semi-gloss finishes while those with low PVC have high gloss finishes. Please see the attachments to this Challenge for typical paint formulations applicable to the Challenge.

ICL currently uses defoamers based on rapeseed oil (canola oil) for medium and high PVC formulations but these are not suitable for formulations with low PVC because they introduce fine surface imperfections that impede the glossy finish. While many other existing non-silicone defoamers in the marketplace may not produce noticeable surface defects when used in matte or semi-gloss coatings they may not be suitable for high gloss coatings due to the formation of minute craters or holes when the coating dries.

Detailed background information on defoamers and their mechanisms of operation can be found in the documents listed under References below:


Our criteria

We are looking for a novel defoamer formulation or technology for use in water-based paints with low pigment volume concentration (PVC). The desired solution must be able to effectively prevent or destroy foams and not introduce noticeable surface defects in the finished coating. 

Proposed solutions must meet the following Technical Requirements

Effectively stop foam formation or eliminate foam after formation for water-based paint formulations. Results of the Stirring Test described below must show a greater than 80% reduction in foam after 1 minute for the formulation containing the proposed defoamer when compared to the formulation without added defoamer.

  1. Must not produce noticeable surface imperfections that reduce the gloss of the finished surface for paints with low PVC. Results of the Application Test described below must show no greater than a 5 unit reduction in gloss units (GU) when measured at a 60 degree angle.
  2. Must be:

In order to demonstrate that the proposed solution meets the Technical Requirements listed above, specifically items 1, 2, and 4, Solvers are required to perform the following tests and submit experimental proof-of-concept data, including pictures and video recordings of the tests. Solvers must use a pure acrylic emulsion (such as Mowilith LDM 7716 from Celanese) to perform the tests. Many resin suppliers and chemical distributors (BASF, Celanese, Alberdingk, Allnex, Dow, Arkema, Mitsui, Stahl, Brenntag, Univar, Chempoint) will supply their acrylic emulsions for free and it is up to the Solver to obtain suitable samples of acrylic emulsions.

Stirring Test

Application Test

 Aging Test


We Offer:

IP Collaboration

The proposal would need to clearly describe the technical concept (chemical approach, structure if IP protected) and proof of concept results, if available. Information on ICL's solutions involving the  P2Omineral chain can be found at

As a technology incubator, ICL Innovation is looking only for innovative technologies that may be further developed and commercialized through a business unit in ICL.