Novel, Vivid, and Durable Blue Pigment Could Soon Debut
27. July 2016
First new blue pigment in two centuries created accidentally in a university lab.
Shepherd Color has partnered with Oregon State U. chemists to bring the new blue to the market. Stumbled upon by materials science professor Mas Subramanian and his students at Oregon State University back in 2009, the pigment came about while they tested the electronic properties of chemical compounds. The team named the new vivid blue YinMin, after the elements from which it is composed—yttrium, indium and manganese.
Now, through an exclusive partnership with Shepherd Color Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, the new blue is on the way to commercialization. It is making its debut in paint, but its use in plastics is surely to follow.
With roots dating back to the 1920s ceramics industry, the family-owned company has been offering a full range of complex inorganic color pigments for the premium coatings and plastics markets since the early 1960s.
According to the company, the new blue’s beauty extends past the visible spectrum into the near infrared spectrum. As such, it allows for the formulation of darker shades that stay cooler than standard blues. It is for this reason that scientists are exploring its use on the development of an energy-saving roofing material, as this compound has water and UV resistance that outperforms other blues, including the last one created, cobalt blue.
Shepherd Color is completing its production scale-up and is aiming to obtain regulatory compliance from the EPA for this new pigment chemistry, for which it does not anticipate any obstacles. The company states that approvals to gain commercialization for new material chemistries are fastidious and well-controlled.
“Care and attention to the safe handling and processing of the materials used in manufacture to the final product as well as regulatory compliance, environmental impacts and even perspectives from global chemical inventories need to be taken into consideration.” Such inventories are used to manage the safe use of materials within different regions and countries; TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) is the relevant inventory in the U.S.
Shepherd Color provided limited samples to specific industrial users for R&D and market evaluation purposes. The company’s filing for commercialization approvals with the EPA was bolstered by the very encouraging feedback it received. While the company is not certain of the timeframe for full commercialization, it has noted that because the materials used in the manufacture of the new pigment are expensive prices are expected to be $1000/kg ($454/lb) plus shipping.
Meanwhile, Artnet Worlwide Corp.’s art market website has reported that the brilliantly bright and durable YinMin has been entered in a Harvard Art Museum pigment collection that preserves the “world history of color”. Artists are calling the new blue “Más Blue” (más in Spanish means “more” and also happens to be professor’s Subramanian’s first name.)