AkzoNobel is investing almost €10 million to further boost the innovative power of the UK site where performance coatings which now protect many of the world’s iconic structures and ships were first developed.
A fire protection testing laboratory and a polymer lab for powder coatings are being added to the existing R&D infrastructure at the company’s Felling site in north-east England, which pioneered products used on landmarks such as Sydney Harbor Bridge, the London Eye, the Olympic Water Cube in Beijing and famous vessels including the Queen Mary 2 and the HMS Ark Royal.

The investment will help further transform the location into a research hub focused on innovation and the development of new performance coatings technology.

“The fact that we are continuing to invest despite the current economic climate gives a clear indication of the importance we attach to advancing our technological expertise,” explains Leif Darner, AkzoNobel’s Board member responsible for Performance Coatings.

“The new facilities will provide us with a state-of-the-art center of excellence which will significantly improve our ability to develop and bring new products to market.”

Due to be completed early next year, the testing lab will be used by the company’s Marine & Protective Coatings (M&PC) business in its development of fire protection coatings. This particular market is growing rapidly due to increasingly stringent fire protection regulations worldwide, with demand expected to double by 2018.

The new polymer lab will allow AkzoNobel Powder Coatings to optimize the 20 years of experience it has in building and commercializing polymers at Felling. Expected to be completed by the end of the year, the facility will enable researchers to handle and develop new materials and will also include scale-up capability and an application line.
Felling – which currently employs more than 260 R&D employees – is already established as a key AkzoNobel innovation center. Existing facilities include a Marine and Yacht lab and a Central Analytical and Technology Center operated by the M&PC business, while Powder Coatings already has labs dedicated to color science, effects science and application science, including the ground-breaking Particle Management Technology.