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O'Hara business distributing earth-friendly sealant

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
The Herald
James Campbell is introducing a new sustainable and industrial coating. Jan Pakler | for The Herald

Imagine a Pittsburgh spring without pot holes.

Jim Campbell, of O'Hara's design and construction firm PWCampbell, says it would be possible with a new product called Ecodur 201. His Atlantic Technologies Group has partnered with the manufacturer, Castagra Products, to distribute the sustainable sealant along the east coast.

Made primarily of gypsum and natural castor plant oils, the coating provides a self-polymerizing system that lasts longer and costs less than urethane products, says Campbell, whose grandfather founded the RIDC Park-based construction firm in 1910.

“It's made from one of the most plentiful products on earth,” Campbell says of the gypsum, which is extracted from natural deposits, recycled drywall or by-products of the coal-fired power industry. “It is 100 percent renewable.”

Invented in the 1990s, Ecodur 201 was first used heavily on Canadian ferry boat decks because it could withstand below-freezing temperatures. It is able to expand and contract rather than crack and break; Ecodur 201 can be applied in temperatures as low as 0 degrees.

But a manual application kept the product cost-prohibitive until a spray technology advanced its accessibility.

PW Campbell is responsible for design and construction of financial institutions in 13 states from New York to Illinois. Local examples of their work are the First Commonwealth banks throughout the Lower Valley.

Campbell said he was drawn to the new business venture because of the commitment to eco-friendliness and sustainability.

“This stuff is so safe you can eat it. It can be put on a rubber roof and extend the life 10 years rather than doing it with tar,” he said.

Campbell said the non-toxic product is gaining steam as an interior liner for oil tanks because it lasts longer and adheres better than epoxy.

He sees potential uses in transportation, drilling and fracking, flooring, roofing, insulation, aeronautics and commercial construction.

“It could be used to coat and prevent corrosion and repair concrete parking decks, bridges, roads, roofs and potholes,” he said. “This product sets so quickly that you wouldn't have to close roads for long stretches to fix the potholes. You'd spray it and it would set. There's no downside to this.”

His only obstacle so far is getting people to try something new, Campbell said.

“It sounds too good to be true, I know. But I think you'll be seeing it in a lot of uses in the future.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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