Paint isn’t something people generally consider as a commodity that could use a technological overhaul, but that’s exactly what we’re witnessing. New production methods are not only increasing paint’s durability and efficiency, they’re simultaneously enhancing its utility as a material. It’s even led to the creation of what one manufacturer claims is “the most eco-friendly paint in the world,” with a little help from the strongest substance known to humankind.
Graphene is something of a scientific marvel. It’s at once the strongest, thinnest and most conductive material ever manufactured, and the future applications for the stuff seem nearly endless. Companies are already producing paint made predominantly from lime, then fortified with Graphene fibers. The addition of Graphene enhances its properties and transforms the paint in a number of ways beneficial to both painters and owners.
For starters, Graphene’s inherent strength gives the paint enhanced resistance to corrosion and the elements, requiring less frequent touch-ups. Its thinness also allows for better surface coverage with less paint needed to finish the job, allowing painters to work faster and more efficiently. The Graphene Company, which touts its Graphenstone line of paints using the material as the world’s most environmentally friendly, told Dezeen that a single liter of Graphene-laced paint would be enough for two eight square-meter coats.
"Graphene's inclusion in paints, coatings and other building materials exponentially enhances hardness, durability, compression, tensile strength, elasticity and coverage," said Patrick Folkes, director of The Graphene Company.
Ingredients-wise, Graphene might get most of the glory here, but equally important to one of Graphenstone’s biggest selling points is the lime. The unique properties of the ancient material make it a natural absorber of CO2. The company says on its website that three 15-liter pots of its Graphene-infused paint will absorb more than 22 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
“It is possible due to a natural process…when the lime is carbonating it absorbs CO2…and cleans the air that you breathe,” notes the company’s website.
Additionally, Graphene’s superconductivity gives the paint insulative properties, which can make a building retain or repel heat and reduce its reliance on heating and air conditioning, helping to minimize its environmental footprint.
"When used on interior wall surfaces, rather than heat being radiated through the walls, the Graphene within the paint captures the heat."
"When used on interior wall surfaces, rather than heat being radiated through the walls, the Graphene within the paint captures the heat," Folkes told Dezeen.
"It then conducts the heat through the paint, and across the whole Graphenstone-painted surface of interior walls. This enhances the insulation measures used in buildings by slowing heat conduction through walls and out of buildings."
The Graphene Company is distributing Graphenstone in the UK, but it’s already being used in projects around the world, including the Antonio Garcia Sports Pavilion in Seville, Spain, which uses its AmbientPro+ paint, capable of “capturing harmful particles and breaking them down" by using light, the company says. The firm is also the official supplier of paint and other ecological solutions for Hotel Vela in Barcelona, and has seen its products used for sustainably minded projects large and small from Vietnam to New Zealand.
Tastes change over time, and that transitory quality is reflected in the buildings in which we live and work. Predictions about the catastrophic near-future impacts of environmental impact to our planet are growing more and more stark, and has builders and manufacturers looking more carefully at sustainable design, including using more materials that contribute to lessening the damage.
Graphenstone, and other companies producing eco-friendly equivalents of mainstay products used by the construction industry are positioning themselves ahead of the curve. In the future people will most assuredly look back and shake their heads, wondering how we went so long without making sustainability minded paints and building materials the standard.
“Sustainability is becoming more and more important as people realise the damage that acrylics do to the environment throughout the manufacturing process and its use on walls," said Folkes.