Pentagon to Get Coat of Environmentally Friendly Paint

Pentagon to Get Coat of Environmentally Friendly Paint

When the Pentagon repaints its interior walls and the wing damaged in the September terrorist attack, it will be using an environmentally friendly paint aptly named American Pride. The American Pride paint is the product of University of Southern Mississippi polymer science researchers.

Although the first shipment made this week was a rather modest 100 gallons, when the painting project is complete, the Pentagon will have used at least 20,000 gallons of the paint that has been shown to be safer for the environment and more durable than conventional paint.

"It will be 12-14 months before we start painting the rebuilt wing," said Bob Billak, head of maintenance at the Pentagon. "Before then, we will use the paint on the corridors and offices in the rest of the building."

The paint, developed by a Southern Miss research team led by Dr. Shelby Thames, distinguished professor of polymer science at the Southern Miss School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, was unveiled during an Earth Day celebration last April. According to Thames, the paint uses an agricultural product instead of a petroleum-based solvent, which reduces the emissions of volatile organic compounds. Using this new technology, VOC emissions are cut from a typical 200-400 grams per liter of paint to as low as three grams.

"The bottom line is this technology uses castor oil, soybean oil, or lesquerella oil to allow us to make latex polymers that have wide applications," Thames said. "Not just paints, but inks, adhesives, carpet backings, coating for fibers, coatings for concrete steel, just a huge potential for applications. And we can make these coating systems that have no odor and release no pollutants into the atmosphere."

Although eco-friendly sometimes means a lower level of performance versus conventional products, Thames points out that this paint bucks the system on this front. Instead, it has passed laboratory quality tests with high marks.

"According to the specifications called for by the Green Seal Society, our paint far exceeded their expectations - in terms of the amount of volatiles in it, in terms of the odor, the washability, the scrub-resistance values," said Thames. "It meets the required Green Seal specifications according to an independent lab. Application for Green Seal certification is in progress."