ABB transformers business brushes up environmental performance

Initiative to switch from solvent-based paint to reduce emissions significantly

Zurich, Switzerland, June 30, 2011 – ABB's transformer business expects to significantly reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by replacing the solvent-based paint used on transformer tanks with water-based and high-solid paints, which are more environmentally friendly. Conventional solvent-based paints emit toxic VOCs as vapor. The VOCs react with other pollutants and sunlight to produce harmful ground-level ozone and other oxidants known as smog.

In terms of VOC emissions, the benefits of the switch are clear: typical traditional solvent-based paints can contain 50 percent VOCs, while the alternatives chosen contain from 8 to15 percent.The targeted VOC reduction with this initiative is about 274 metric tons, which is equivalent to the yearly VOC emissions from about 25,000 US cars.

ABB leads the way in the shift to use environmentally-friendly paints on a global scale, involving 50 transformer factories and 28 service centers. The plan is that all ABB transformer tanks including those from sub-suppliers will use the new reduced VOC paint alternatives by 2012.

"As essential components of the power value chain, transformers are used in many applications. The effort to substantially reduce their VOC emissions underlines our determination to fulfill our responsibility as a market leader by setting new industry benchmarks in terms of product performance, reliability, safety and minimal environmental impact," said Markus Heimbach, head of ABB’s global Transformers business, a part of the company’s Power Products division.

ABB has been using reduced VOC paints on some of its power and distribution transformers for 10 years, with good results. Building on this experience and in cooperation with qualified suppliers, ABB researchers have developed reduced VOC painting systems based on the ISO standard 12944-2. In addition to reducing harmful solvent emissions, lower VOC paint provides additional benefits, like reduced manufacturing and delivery times, as well as a robust finish that provides proven protection.

Contrary to popular belief, the shift to the new environmentally friendly paint systems does not compromise performance or robustness and will not have an additional cost impact. The switch also lowers energy costs involved in the application and drying of paints.

ABB has developed a variety of environmentally innovative transformer solutions as part of its green transformer program, conceived to reduce energy losses, improve energy efficiency, increase the overload capacity and minimize environmental impact of ABB transformers.

For ABB, sustainability is about balancing economic success, environmental stewardship and social progress to benefit all stakeholders and the company is committed to phasing out the use of hazardous substances in all products and processes wherever it is technically and economically feasible.

ABB ( is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 124,000 people.

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    Contact us

    Media contact
    • Harmeet Bawa
      Head of Communications
      ABB Power Products and Systems
      Tel: +41 43 317 6480
      Fax: +41 43 317 6482
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