Many paint, ink and coating formulations contain alkyd-based resins which cure via autoxidation mechanisms. Whilst cobalt-soaps have been used for many decades, there is a continuing and accelerating desire by paint companies to develop alternatives for the cobalt soaps, due to likely classification as carcinogens under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) legislation. Alternative driers, for example manganese and iron soaps, have been applied for this purpose. However, relatively poor curing capabilities make it necessary to increase the level of metal salts to such a level that often coloring of the paint formulation occurs. More recent developments include the application of manganese and iron complexes with a variety of organic ligands. This review will discuss the chemistry of alkyd resin curing, the applications and reactions of cobalt-soaps as curing agents, and, subsequently, the paint drying aspects and mechanisms of (model) alkyd curing using manganese and iron catalysts.
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