Special Coverage

| March 1, 2011

American Traffic Safety Services Association 41st Annual Convention & Traffic Expo

New binder permits less TiO2 and higher pigment loading

by Tina Grady Barbaccia and Better Roads staff

An old idiom asserts that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Dow Coating Material’s new FASTRACK HE-2706 Binder is a product born from such necessity.

“As we learned again last year, shortages of traffic paint can have a direct effect on public safety, and that’s not acceptable,” Stan Cook, Dow traffic paint marker manager, told Better Roads at the ATSSA 41st Annual Convention & Traffic Expo, held February in Phoenix.

Supply shortages provided much of the impetus for Cook and his R&D team to spring into action. “When the supply crisis struck last year,” he says, “we simply accelerated our HE (high-efficiency) development schedule in order to help customers and DOTs meet a challenge that had become a crisis in the middle part of last year.”

The result of the work by the Dow R&D team, FASTRACK HE-2706, is a new resin that offers higher pigment binding efficiency, higher pigment loadings and a reduction of TiO2 pigments, according to the company. Titanium dioxide, also known as titanium (IV) oxide or titania, is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium, chemical formula TiO2. In addition, the product does not sacrifice dry time or properties such as hiding, visibility, durability, sprayability or stability, according to Dow.

Cook, a chemical engineer, formerly worked as an applications and development leader. “When TiO2 supply and prices fluctuate, which we are currently experiencing and expect to see for some time, formulators, DOTs, applicators and the driving public all feel the effects.” Supply pressures can be relieved, he says, with “the potential to improve price stability for maintenance traffic paint.”

With this new binder technology also offering significant sustainability advantages, DOTs and traffic paint formulators – the primary users of the product – will look at the binders for their waterborne traffic paints, which can now get the same results with up to 50-percent lower TiO2 levels, Cook says.

Cindy Randazzo, who leads Dow’s traffic markings and sales service group, coordinates and designs Dow’s roadway test deck applications program, and was a leader in over-seeing the extensive testing of the product. She told Better Roads that the chemistry FASTRACK HE-2706 offers also provides up to a 30-percent reduction of the amount of latex necessary in the paint. These ingredients can be replaced with CaCO3 and water in traffic paints without loss of roadway performance, including both initial retro-reflectivity and retro-reflectivity retention throughout time.

Dow conducted a life-cycle analysis, which indicated a more sustainable product when compared to other traffic paints currently on the market. “Dow conducted an ISO-14040 life-cycle analysis that focused on five broad areas: energy usage, ecosystem quality, carbon footprint and the impact on natural resources and human health,” Cook says. In all cases, the study found that the new formulations based on FASTRACK HE-2706 Binder were significantly better than the paints currently used with traditional binder technologies, says Cook. “In every instance, we were at levels between 60-percent and 70-percent of today’s paints for these different categories.”

By lowering the supply dependence on key raw materials, Cook says, Dow hopes to be able to stabilize supply, stabilize pricing and offer a more sustainable solution to the states

Solar-powered dynamic signage

SwiftSign dynamic signage is solar-powered, remotely-controlled and, according to the manufacturer Versilis, easily installed and relocated. The system is comprised of a pivoting sign, solar panel and control box. Flashing lights can be added to the traffic sign to increase nighttime visibility and to catch drivers’ attention under specific circumstances such as emergency procedures. The dynamic signage is completely independent of any wiring for ease of installation or relocation, and can be easily activated with an RF unit, cellular phone or Web-based application.

Redirective, non-gating cushion

Barrier Systems, a division of Lindsay Transportation Solutions, has added the X-TENuator system to its lineup of road safety devices. X-TENuator provides a redirective non-gating crash cushion and has been designed to be installed permanently. It is also approved to be used on asphalt in work zones where redirective non-gating performance is required. Standard transition options, narrow footprint and easy deployment make the system ideal for shielding narrow roadside hazards such as narrow medians, gore areas, the side-of-the-road and toll plazas at low-impact sites, according to the manufacturer.

Makes signs from e-waste

Image Microsystems’ MicroStrate sign is made of substrate material that has been found to be an environmentally-friendly and lower-cost alternative to aluminum for use in highway signs and road marker, says Texas Tech University’s Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory. “According to our recent laboratory experiments, the recycled e-waste plastic MicroStrate material has similar physical properties to aluminum,” explains Hong-Chao Zhang, PhD, P.E., professor of industrial engineering and director of the Texas Tech lab. “In some aspects (such as withstanding environmental effects and free vibration), MicroStrate sign substrate exhibits superior properties to aluminum. Our extensive life-cycle analysis also concludes that the manufacture of sign substrate made from MicroStrate material consumes less resources and emits fewer greenhouse gases – just one-fourth of the emissions of typical aluminum substrate.” Image Microsystems revealed the information at ATSSA 2011 in Phoenix.

For a YouTube video on the signs being made, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrtpiRSG0ns&feature=youtube_gdata.

Bright and tough reflectors

Hot Dots round 3-inch center-mount reflectors from Pexco, a division of Davidson Traffic Control Products, are highly abrasion-resistant and highly impact-resistant. When subjected to 60 inch-pounds of force, the daytime Hot Dots dimple instead of fracture like acrylic reflectors; at nighttime, they retain brightness instead of losing it. When cracks develop, the reflectors also retain reflectivity. They are available in yellow, white, red, blue and green.

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