Our 2020 Scientist of the Year is Jitte Flapper. The annual award recognizes those at AkzoNobel who have made a tremendous contribution to research and development over the course of their career. Jitte, who is somewhat of a “jack of all trades” in coatings science, fits that bill perfectly. His breadth of knowledge makes him indispensable when it comes to new research.
Making better paints and coatings
“I aim to understand our paints and coatings on a fundamental level,” says Jitte. “This knowledge has led to a number of new developments and solutions that are now being applied in our products. Specifically in the field of catalysis, I’ve helped make our paints more sustainable, affordable and of higher quality.”
He says: “Receiving this prize is a big honor. It shows the appreciation of the work we’re doing. I’m very grateful to all the other researchers around me, it would not have been possible to do this by myself.”
Expertise, enthusiasm and connections
Jitte is an expert in metal-based catalysis, focused on curing in paints and coatings, as well as a specialist in alkyd drying (and general alkyd enthusiast). He’s the inventor on eight patents, several innovations which have been employed in our products. And he’s made a name for himself through international publications, lectures and symposiums.
But that’s not all. With a broad interest in the chemistry of paints and coatings overall, he’s built up a large network across Dutch academia that connects him with all the newest and most exciting developments in the field.
One of Jitte’s strongest connections is with the ARC CBBC. It’s the Dutch national research center that brings together academic, industrial and governmental partners to investigate chemical building blocks for novel sustainable energy and materials. As part of this consortium, AkzoNobel is designing the coatings of the future.
“One of the multilateral research projects I’m working on is ‘Coatings and functional materials: Crosslinking in waterborne coatings with new building blocks’,” Jitte says.
“It’s about contributing to a more sustainable future through the development of paints, inks, lacquers and similar coatings that can be produced on the basis of renewable bio-based building blocks. These coatings should also have improved functionalities such as film-formation and crosslinking.”
Engaged in learning together
Jitte says he especially enjoys the opportunities through ARC CBBC to work with students: “It always amazes them how much science can be found in a can of paint!”
In addition to working with the graduate students on project teams, Jitte is the industrial supervisor for a number of PhD students. “One highlight is the development of a new class of iron-based catalysts for the drying of alkyd paints, together with researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA). We were aiming to create the perfect paint – a formula that’s ‘brushable’ but not harmful to the environment or the painter.”
He continues: “Now a patent on the application of this new technology has been filed and made public and we’re preparing for publication in a scientific journal – that’s very exciting.”
What is ARC CBBC?
As part of our work with the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium, we’re designing the coatings of the future – making breakthroughs like a more sustainable way to make resins using bio-based monomers. Requiring just UV light, oxygen and renewable raw materials, patent applications have already been filed.