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Mazda's New Paint System Cuts VOC Emissions by 57 Percent

Mazda began using a new paint system at a Japanese facility that it claims carries the smallest environmental footprint of any water-based paint system being used today.
  Called Aqua-tech, the paint system generates 15 grams of volatile organic compound emissions per square meter of vehicle body surface -- a 57 percent reduction compared to Mazda’s current Three Layer Wet Paint System.

When Mazda introduced its Three Layer Wet Paint System seven years ago, it was considered a breakthrough technology for its cuts in VOC emissions and CO2 emissions.

Although the Aqua-tech system generates 57 percent fewer VOC emissions than the Three Layer Wet Paint process, there are no further reductions to CO2 emissions through the process.

Water-based paints have a lower VOC content than solvent-based paints, therefore generating fewer emissions. Using water-based paints, however, is generally more carbon-intensive because evaporating the water and drying the paint in the baking process requires a lot of energy.

The Aqua-tech system uses a series of new technologies that improve the efficiency of the painting process and reduce VOC emissions while keeping CO2 emissions low: a better paint shop air-conditioning system; an evaporation system to remove water from the paint; and new topcoat paints that consolidate the coating process.

The Aqua-tech paint system is now being used at its Ujina Plant No. 1 near the company’s corporate headquarters in Hiroshima. The development is part of the company’s overarching environmental plan called “sustainable Zoom-Zoom.” The company reduced the fuel efficiency of its cars 30 percent between 2001 and 2008, and plans to improve efficiency another 30 percent by 2015 as part of the initiative.

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