Information Bulletin October 2019

Update on the REACH Authorization for Cr6

On 7.3.2019 the European General Court cancelled a decision of the European Commission to grant authorization for 2 chromates, on the ground that the Commission had failed to evaluate alternatives.

In view of that judgment, the Commission has put several granting decisions on hold. This is also the case of the upstream AfA (application for authorization of CrO3) filed by the Chromium Trioxide Authorization Consortium (abbreviated CTAC) and which includes the use of CrO3 as conversion layer before powder coating of aluminium for architectural applications.

The Commission’s draft implementing decision granting authorization to CTAC had been approved by the REACH Committee in February 2019, and therefore notification to the applicants had been expected in april. But, in order to be on the safe side in view of the Court judgment, the Commission is now modifying the draft. Changes might include new monitoring requirements or operational conditions, but also the imposition of substitution plans for specific uses, as well as modified review periods. The modified draft has again to be approved by the REACH Committee.

Industry still expects that, in the end, authorization will be granted, but after an additional delay of probably several months. In the meantime, powder coaters of aluminium can continue to use CrO3 as long as they can prove that it is originating from one of the CTAC applicants.

Considering the new delays, and in view of the short review periods for some of the ‘uses’ applied for in the CTAC (for alu powder coating, 4 years from date of granting decision), preparations for re-authorization have to get started soon.

 

BREF STM – Industrial Emissions Directive

ESTAL has been accepted as a member of the Art 13 Forum which monitors the review of the various BREFs (Reference documents on Best Available Techniques) and is composed of European Member States, industry associations and NGO’s.

The Technical Working Group for the 2006 BREF STM (BREF on Surface Treatment of Metals and Plastics) might be re-activated around the end of 2020. ESTAL finishers should prepare through their national associations and ESTAL for the review and prepare a “wish list” of what should be kept or modified.

Upon request, the ESTAL secretariat can send to any interested parties the text of the BREF STM published in 2006.

 

Aluminium powder coaters wishing to continue the use of CrO3 should not rely on their chemical suppliers for (re-)authorisation.

Indeed, the future role of the CTAC for re-authorizations is today unclear.

End of September, in order to file applications for re-authorisations, an ADCR consortium (Aerospace, Defence, Chromates Re-authorization) was formed by 7 companies from the aerospace and defence industries that use Cr6 compounds (chromates, chromiumtrioxide, …). The ADCR is open to upstream and downstream Cr6 users from aerospace and defence but also from automotive and other sectors.

 

Classification and Labelling of Titanium Dioxide

The European Commission intends to adopt the 14th adaptation of the Classification and Labelling Regulation (CLP), including the proposal to classify Titanium Dioxide as a suspected carcinogen (cat. 2) by inhalation.

 

Working Group on Surface Treatment on Secondary Aluminium

In Spring 2019, a working group composed of aluminium producers, scientific institutions, aluminium finishers and chemical suppliers has started to test various aluminium surface treatments applied on panels of recycled aluminium.

First test results were presented and discussed at the Joint Technical Committee Meeting held on 18 September in Istanbul. The initial tests will be repeated in the next months as some results were surprising whereas others were as expected. The influence of elements such as zinc or magnesium will be investigated in a second testing phase. Later on, the working group will study the influence of conversion treatments on alloys as well as the condition of the extrusion process.

 

Looking back at the ESTAL Congress in Istanbul: 18-20 Sept. 2019

This year, ESTAL Congress took place in Istanbul upon invitation of AYID, the Turkish national association of aluminium surface treatment. The congress attracted 120 delegates from 19 countries in Istanbul.

After a formal opening ceremony in presence of the Mayor of Istanbul, Mr. Ekrem Imamoglu, the congress, organised under the slogan “Adding value to aluminium”, gave the participants the opportunity to listen to 20 presentations dealing with either technical, scientific, political or commercial subjects.

A presentation on how international politics influence the world econmy and the global aluminium market, was completed by the joint presentation of European Aluminium and ESTAL showing the status of current European legislation and its impact on aluminium surface treatment.

A Turkish architect showed how aluminium makes it possible to offer various forms and a variety of colours in buildings whereas another speaker explained the challenges of coloring anodized aluminium for architectural use.

Some presentations were devoted to one of the serious challenges currently encountered by the aluminium finishers, namely applying surface treatment on recycled aluminium. University researchers and aluminium producers presented the results of first tests carried out in the past months.

Several chemical suppliers explained how their develop innovative products or processes for the aluminium finishing industry in order to help aluminium finishers to reduce their ecological footprint, reduce their costs whenever possible, but still offer a high corrosion protection.

A presentation dealt with hard anodizing and the challenges of this type of surface treatment, another with electro-deposition coating on anodized aluminium.

One of the aims of the ESTAL Congress is to inform the finishing industry about the research currently done in several universities in connection with aluminium and other metals. Prof. A.Mol (TUD) explained the work done on self healing properties and durability of the aluminium surface. Prof. H. Terryn (VUB) described the modelling approaches used to better understand and predict the corrosion of metals, whereas Prof. K.Nisancioglu (NTNO) pointed out the properties of several pre-treatment processes and their consequence for the treatment of aluminium. Dr. C. Akyil also explained the influence of silicon intermetallics on the aluminium oxide during the anodizing process.

ESTAL president also gave a short report on the activities of ESTAL in past 2 years and addressed his sincere thanks to the 13 sponsors of the congress, especially to Axalta Coating Systems who had accepted to be the key sponsor of the ESTAL congress for the 4th consecutive time.

 

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