An eco-friendly varnish made from frankincense in Oman has been given the stamp of approval by The Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) paving the way for commercial production.
Based in Massachusetts, US,ACMI is an international association of about 200 art, craft and creative materials manufacturers which seeks to promote safety in art and creative products through its certification programmes.
Called ‘Lubanium’, the eco-friendly varnish was developed by 26 year old chemical engineer Salim Abdallah al Kaabi. Concerned about the harmful side effects of varnish used by artists to coat and protect oil paintings, he was researching processes and materials to develop a varnish that was free of toxic and chemical components, when he realised it would be even better if the product was organic and could be efficiently produced. Twenty failed experiments later, he finally had his product.
“I used Oman’s famous frankincense, the aromatic gum resin, to neutralise the toxic effects of varnish,” Kaabi said.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, he said, “Lubanium has been evaluated by toxicologists from ACMI. This approval will allow us to obtain a product quality certification from the institute. Art, craft and creative material manufacturers must obtain approval from one of the international organisations for products to be manufactured and sold. We applied to join ACMI in May, following which their toxicologists checked our product. We got approval a few days ago.”
Claiming there is very little financial support for innovation in the country, he said, “I don’t have any support. We also did not find any Arab organisation to grant us a licence to produce our product.”
“I strived to develop a solution that is clean, convenient and user friendly. From the production point of view, it had to be based on a natural resource of abundance, it had to be non-toxic and non-flammable eliminating any health risks and ensure minimal ecological negative footprint with zero emissions and minimal water and energy consumption,” he added.
According to Kaabi, in comparison to commercial production of other varnishing products, Lubanium has been successful in achieving water consumption reduction of up to 50 per cent, 99 per cent reduction in CO2 emission and 40 per cent reduction in energy consumption.
Kaabi’s plans for the future include establishing the first factory of its kind in the Middle East that makes products for artists that are environment-friendly.
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