Less fattening, and less toxic, paints

Industrial chemistry really is going green. Remember olestra, the fat substitute that was briefly used to make fat-free potato chips, until its unappealing side effects dampened consumer enthusiasm? Now some olestra relatives may be back, for uses that don’t threaten to produce gastrointestinal distress. According to Scientific American’s 60-Second Science blog, a new line of sucrose esters called Sefose, made from sugar and soybean oil, can replace petroleum-based resins and solvents in paints. Sounds a bit like covering your house with cake frosting, but Sefose reportedly provides a scratch-resistant glossy surface without the emissions of volatile organic compounds that are typical of resins and solvents. Procter and Gamble, which makes the Sefose line, is also testing it for use in lubricants.