Centre of excellence
The opening of Jotun’s new R&D centre in Sandefjord will not only support the company’s efforts to accelerate innovation but recruit and train top chemists from all over the world.
Opened in 2020, Jotun’s Research and Development (R&D) centre contains a full range of specialised equipment, home to one of the most advanced analytical laboratories in Norway. In addition to heavy centrifuges, heating furnaces and seawater test tanks, Jotun has invested in more advanced technologies, such as a Scanning Electron Microscope and other tools to gain a deeper understanding of light, colour and materials composition.
But it is the skill and dedication of chemists and support staff that will help drive development of the paints and coatings of the future. In fact, Jotun often works closely with researchers at SINTEF (one of Europe’s largest independent research organisations), and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) to develop next-generation paints and coatings.
For example, Jotun Chemist Morten Martinsen, who has worked at Jotun for almost a decade, is currently working toward his PhD at NTNU to develop an anti-icing (or icephobic) coating solution. “For any steel structures exposed to cold and wet conditions, the build-up of ice represents a genuine risk,” he explains. “My project is to experiment with different coating solutions to protect ships, port equipment, offshore units and windfarms from the build-up of ice, which may impact safety and performance.”
Seeing below the surface
Senior Surface Scientist Angelika Brink joined Jotun three years ago. After earning her PhD. in aerospace engineering from the Stuttgart Technology University of Applied Sciences, she took a post doctorate at NTNU. Today, she leads the Advanced Surface Effect team at Jotun, working on two projects related to hydrodynamics.
“We are working with SINTEF on research project concerning air lubrication systems for ships and another with NTNU, testing how different surface features impact underwater drag,” she says. “While not directly related to coatings at this time, our work will form the basis innovative marine coatings in the future.”
For some chemists, the new R&D center’s location next to Jotun’s HQ allows for improved cooperation with other parts of the organisation. Senior Chemist Siri Gilde Flenstad joined Jotun in 2006, where she has worked exclusively with interior decorative paints. At present, she and her team of engineers and technicians are hard at work developing the next-generation family of Lady brand paints.
“In addition to working closely with other departments within R&D, such as the Colorant Technology Department and the Biology Laboratory, we also meet frequently with colleagues in Sales and Marketing and Jotun’s Colour Manager to make sure we understand what customers are looking for in terms of colour, finish and gloss,” she says. “We also get to work with process engineers at our factory in Vindal to optimise production whenever we introduce a new product.”
Indeed, while all chemists at Jotun’s R&D center make use of the new facility’s sophisticated equipment to develop new products, what makes working there special is access to a mix of different competencies. By being able to interact with researchers, scientists, engineers and experts in other departments, Jotun’s new R&D center sometimes feels more like a university than an industrial research and development facility.
Svein Gunvaldsen, Vice President R&D (Performance Coatings), notes that the new R&D center, and the work chemists are doing there, will be a powerful recruiting tool for top specialists. “We believe that by offering our R&D personnel with the opportunity to work with scientists with expertise in different disciplines, we can accelerate product innovation and create a true centre of excellence!”