Could you tell us a little about your company, and why you started it?
Our company, Entropy Resins, is a materials provider that specializes in providing environmentally friendly material choices for the composite, coating, and adhesive industries. Today our main product is a bio-derived epoxy resin system, Super Sap, that can be used for a wide range of applications.
The origin of our company came from doing materials R&D with the aim of making end products. As we progressed our materials ideas, I think we realized that our backgrounds and expertise really lied in doing technology development as opposed to creating and selling products to end consumers, so we gradually morphed our business plan into developing and selling our materials ideas to manufacturers. The bio-derived products came from these initial R&D days and as we have seen market develop, so have our ideas for products.
You guys seem pretty sharp, what are your backgrounds in?>
Well Rey has a PhD in biochemistry and Desi is an engineer and has a masters in Material Science and Engineering. Our backgrounds were very helpful in the initial phases of developing our company as Desi worked closely with customers to understand their needs from an engineering standpoint and Rey could take that feedback and translate it into products that would be useful for the customer. We have taken the approach of understanding what the customer needs first, then seeing what materials we could use to address those needs. I think this has helped us penetrate markets quickly.
Chemical and manufacturing industries are notorious for creating "green" products, but the only thing green is the title. Exactly how environmentally friendly is your bio-based epoxy?
The good thing about our epoxy product is that it was born from the idea of asking ourselves what does environmentally friendly mean? I think at the time we first asked ourselves that, we really did not know the answer and it took us a while to be able to answer that question to completion.
Today we would break the explanation down into two segments, one is sustainability or the idea of using materials that are renewable within our lifetime, and the other is quantifying the environmental benefit from a carbon footprint perspective.
I think everyone can agree that reducing fossil fuel consumption is good for the environment, not to mention all the social aspects that come along with that. However, we are cognizant this doing that with plant material does not automatically mean something is eco-friendly. Corn-based ethanol is a good example of this. So in the beginning, as we looked at possible bio-mass sources for our products, we always kept this concept in mind and focused on bio-mass sources that either came as a co-product or a waste steam of other industrial processes.
Taking this one step further we wanted to make sure the further processing of these materials into resins also did not require more input (such as energy) than conventional petrochemical derived resins. What you see today in terms of our input bio-mass is something where we can with conviction make the argument that our material is both sustainable and eco-friendly.
Now comes the hard part... quantifying this for our customers. We have implemented third party certification on both these fronts, the first is using the new USDA sponsored BioPreferred Certification Program to quantify bio-renewable content in our resins, the second is life cycle analysis to quantify our carbon footprint savings. This article probably isn't long enough for me to go into detail on this but we are definitely pushing the industry towards verifying and quantifying eco claims.
What industries or products are latching onto your technology first?
We see customers using our materials for two main reasons, marketing advantage and compliance with environment based legislation. As such, our first adopters have been mainly sports and recreation equipment manufacturers where the idea of a green product not only matches with their customer base but also the sports themselves.
However, we are seeing a lot of movement on the legislation side as well, and industries such as construction and transportation are areas that are getting increasingly interesting for us. For example the State of California recently signed into law a cap-and-trade policy for Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. This is the type of legislation that will hopefully pull materials like ours into the mainstream, as being green will start to effect companies bottom lines.
So sports and recreational equipment. Does that mean you have resins especially designed for compression molding and resins that are water clear transparent?
We have resins designed for all kinds of applications but yes, today our best selling products are probably our water clear system for hand lamination processes like surfboard production and our press molding system for things like snowboards.
What are the future plans for Entropy?
One of our recent pushes has been getting back to something we wanted to do from the beginning, selling products to individual consumers. We have made a real push towards selling our resins into the hobby/DIY markets. This started with selling small kits online through our website but soon you will be able to walk into your local specialty plastic or hardware store and purchase our resins. Obviously, we will continue our focus on selling materials to manufacturers but its been really fun talking to individual users about their DIY projects and the successes they have had with our resins.
Where do you guys see the composites industry in 5 years?
One of my old professors who was a pioneer in developing the carbon fiber composite industry starting in the 50's at Ford Motor Company told me a funny story recently. When he first got into composites someone told him,"This is the dawn of composites age!" Time passed, a lot of the technologies he developed remained in the lab and about ten years later someone else would come up to him and say the same thing.
Its been 50 years and people are still saying the same thing to him. I'd like to think that this premonition is finally coming true as you start to see things like the cost of fuels outweigh the cost of using a composite for weight savings and eventually fuel consumption. Commercial aviation is probably the best example of this as carbon fiber has moved from the realm of exotic to the realm of commonplace. And, as this develops I think there will be a place for making sure these materials are not only high performance and cheap, but also eco-friendly!