Environmental issues beyond CO2 emissions: Urgent need to reduce photochemical smog that produces VOCs
Global environmental problems, such as global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer, are growing more serious day by day. In considering global environmental issues, one important challenge, equally important as reducing CO2 emissions, is reducing volatile organic compounds (VOC).
VOC emissions produce photochemical smog. Photochemical smog became a social problem in the 1970s, causing eye irritation, sore throats, numbness in limbs, and other symptoms. The problem of photochemical smog seemed to have been settled, but was observed again in 2000.
VOCs are mostly found in solvent-based paints and other materials using petroleum and thinners that volatilize and disperse into the atmosphere. It is believed that solvent-based paints account for some 40% of all VOC emissions, so switching from commonly used solvent-based paints to water-based paints containing no VOCs would be an effective way to reduce VOCs.
Given current circumstances, in 2013, Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. developed a water-based paint for servers and other ICT equipment, which reduce VOCs by 80%. For the first time in ICT industry, Fujitsu Laboratories worked with paint manufacturer, Mikasa Paint Company, Ltd., to develop bio-derived, water-based paints that reduce CO2 emissions.
CO2 and VOC emission reducing bio-derived water-based paints
One characteristic of the newly developed bio-derived water-based paint is a water-resistant, strong coated film using bio-derived polylactic acid emulsion. Compared to conventional solvent-based paint, this bio-derived water-based paint reduces CO2 emissions by 60% and VOCs by 80%. Since it is no longer a hazardous material, it can be simply packaged and transported. It also improves the coating work environment, while reducing operational costs. If this product is widely used in the future, it will contribute to environmental countermeasures including the mitigation of global warming and reduction of photochemical smog.
To date, Fujitsu has worked on various environmental conservation activities. For example, in 2002, Fujitsu began using a plant-based plastic derived from corn in its laptop PCs. Fujitsu will continue to develop new products, aiming to create a society, friendly to both the environment and people.