Is this the solvent of the future? Probably! Non-polluting and completely harmless to one’s health, it is even more effective than thinner.
It all began with an industrial accident at Wonitrol, one of the largest automobile body companies in the country, when a painter at the Mons site was severely poisoned by vapors from paint thinner (a solvent used in all automobile sectors), an injury for which he was hospitalized for three days. The owner of the company, Bruce Lanhove, who is also the president of the “mobility” sector of FEDERAUTO, set out in search of a non-toxic solvent. However, it appeared that there was currently no substitute.
So he turned to the Wallonia innovation agency (Innovatec), which plugged into its network of contacts and received several responses. The CORI research center, which has studied the applications of acetals, directed the agency to Lambiotte et Cie, an SME located in Marbehan. Through a project coordinated with the Université de Liège, the company had developed a fuel additive with characteristics that it might find interesting…
Although Lambiotte had not yet considered the auto body sector as a potential market for its solvent, a meeting with Mr. Lanhove would finalize a commercial partnership described as a “godsend” by Wonitrol, which has since replaced its paint thinner with EcoThin.
Bruce Lanhove, Director of Wonitrol, says, “The three disadvantages of thinner were that the product was flammable, bad for one’s health and bad for the environment. But otherwise, it worked very well. On the other hand, the new product is non-flammable, does not pollute the environment and is not harmful to the skin or eyes. What’s more, it strips paint extremely well.”
This is a wonderful story of entrepreneurialism on the part of four organizations, demonstrating the true power of the network of technological expertise that is so well established in Wallonia.