Touting it as having the lowest environmental impact of any water-based vehicle paint methodology, Mazda has introduced its new Aqua-tech Paint System in Japan. Painting has always been one of the most environmentally challenging aspects of modern auto-manufacturing, and while today's water-based paints produce far lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) than do their solvent-based counterparts, they still create considerable carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as part of the evaporative drying process. Mazda says its Aqua-tech process addresses those issue on multiple levels to the degree that it sets new standards for VOC emissions -- lowering them by an additional 57 percent below its current Three-Layer Wet Paint System -- as well as minimizing CO2 generated from the energy actually consumed during the painting/drying process.

In addition to upgrading both the air-conditioning and evaporative capabilities in the paint shop, the Aqua-tech regimen includes paint chemistry innovations that Mazda's says consolidates the coating process in a way that gives the finish coats properties -- notably brightness, durability and resistance to chipping and light damage -- that are generally associated more with primer paints. Collectively, these advances lead to the aforementioned cuts in VOC and CO2 while yielding an even better quality finish.

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