April 17, 2000

CONTACT: Ward Mullens






YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University has received its largest single gift ever, coatings patents from the ExxonMobil Chemical Company appraised at $16 million. The patents involve materials used to create industrial paints.

"There are only a few undergraduate coatings programs in the country and we are proud and excited that ExxonMobil chose to donate these patents to our Coatings Research Institute," said EMU President William E. Shelton at a press conference April 17 on the Eastern Michigan campus.

The gift includes 20 issued U.S. patents and five pending U.S. patent applications. It also includes more than 50 worldwide patent and patent application counterparts.

EMU's Dr. Frank Jones and students of Eastern Michigan assisted ExxonMobil in the development of five of the U.S. patents.

"We are in the best position to do something with the patents because we know the technology," said Jones. "This will give EMU faculty and students an opportunity to be involved with exciting new areas of coatings technology and to potentially produce income that will help the coatings program and the University."

"We're delighted to donate these patents to the University," said Nick Smith, an executive with ExxonMobil Chemical Company's Intermediates business. "Eastern Michigan University is well known as for its Coatings Research Institute and we believe will provide a perfect environment to develop and capitalize on this kind of technology."

Jones said that the patents deal with materials that can be used to make a wide variety of industrial paints, primarily direct to metal applications. Potential end use applications include paint for cars, trucks, appliances, metal, furniture, and steel and aluminum siding.

The patents cover compositions, synthesis, and applications of three different classes of materials: polyester diols with exceptionally low viscosity; a phenolic ester alcohol (PHEA) reactive diluent; and phenolterminated polyester (PTE) resins.

As technology is developed, use of the low viscosity polyester diols in coatings can sharply reduce, and sometimes eliminate, the need for organic solvent in industrial coatings, reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from factories where paint is applied. PHEA can improve a coating's toughness and hardness while also reducing its VOC. Use of PTEs, according to Jones, can improve a coating's weatherability.

Jones said that new technology based on some of the patents will be developed in the CRI lab and the University is looking into licensing.

The Coatings Research Institute was established at Eastern Michigan University in 1985. It includes the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center in Coatings, started in 1990. Research areas include synthesis of polymers for coatings, formulation and testing of coatings, and application to industrial needs.

With marketing and operations in more than 120 countries around the world, ExxonMobil Chemical Company and its affiliates are global industry leaders in technology, product quality and customer service. ExxonMobil Chemical Company is a division of Exxon Mobil Corporation.