Grant: remooble

Abigail Giarrosso conducted application research and measured performance of nontoxic paint removers.MPCA awarded the 2018 Green Chemistry & Engineering Summer Internship Grant to remooble, a 2017 start-up company based in Maple Grove that develops safe and effective paint, ink and adhesive removers for retail sale.

Commercial paint removers contain high amounts of methylene chloride, a toxic solvent that causes cancer and has suffocated dozens of workers and others using it in poorly ventilated areas. Alternatives may contain other toxic solvents such as n-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP), a reproductive toxin known for causing infertility and reproductive harm. Recently, major retailers have decided to stop selling paint removers that contain methylene chloride and NMP.

To meet this new need for safer alternatives, remooble used the $10,000 grant to hire Abigail Giarrosso, a graduate student from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell to help their team develop novel paint remover blends and test their performance and safety. The new paint removers are largely bio-derived, using various bio-sourced raw materials.

Outcomes

At the outset of the project, remooble’s Chief Technology Officer, Bart Engendahl, established goals for the project and the new product.

Stripping times of 25 minutes for one layer of paint, and 45-60 minutes for 5 layers.

  • The professional paint stripper prototype removed latex and oil paint, polyurethane, lacquer, shellac, varnish, deck stains, and one- and two-part epoxies. It was effective on pine, laminated wood, steel, aluminum, concrete, and porcelain. It completely removed 5 layers of latex and oil paint in under 40 minutes, so is exceeding the performance goal.
  • A specialty paint stripper was also developed for difficult-to-remove oil paint and varnish applications.

No solvents of concern to be used in the paint stripper, and no acidic or caustic additives.

  • The formulations do not use chemicals of concern nor do they use caustic or acidic additives.

No hazard symbols on the SDS or a maximum of GHS eye irritation class 2b (mildly irritating).

  • At the current stage of development, this goal was met; remooble is working to improve the formulation to eliminate this hazard.

Meet Safer Choice standard (U.S. EPA).

  • With its current formulation, the strippers are expected to meet the EPA Safer Choice standard.

Nationwide distribution

The new remooble paint strippers have sparked interest nationally and internationally, and the company is now in discussion with major retailers for nationwide distribution by the end of 2018.