Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute - Purdue University

Carl logo CARL was created in 1996 as an interdisciplinary effort of the Schools of Engineering, the departments of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Forestry and Natural Resources, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies, and the Purdue-based Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute. Eighteen companies, five Indiana utilities, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) joined Purdue in establishing CARL, which primarily serves small- and medium-sized manufacturers.


CARL allows Midwest manufacturers to test state-of-the-art clean manufacturing technologies under the guidance of personnel expert in their application. Supervised use of this facility will give you a "level playing field" opportunity to determine which of the available products or processes meets your manufacturing and market requirements.

CARL's purpose is to enable midwest firms to select and implement technologies to help them meet environmental regulations at least cost in their plants, while maintaining desired surface quality. Coatings such as paint, stain, and varnish--used extensively by the furniture, metal and plastics coating industries--contain VOCs, which evaporate into the air as the coatings dry. The amount of VOCs released can be reduced by controlling how the coatings are applied and then dried, but not all companies have the knowledge or equipment to do so. CARL contains equipment that mimics an industrial production line, including booths for applying coatings and numerous types of drying mechanisms as well as a variety of application systems.

CARL is the official styrene emissions test lab for the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA). CARL is currently the only laboratory capable of producing emissions test data which can be used for official emissions factors.


Testing has been completed on over 80 projects to date. Projects have included work on wood, metal and plastic substrates. The users of the facility report raw material cost savings, VOC reductions, and improvement in the quality and appearance of the finished product.



The Light-Tool Resin Transfer Molding (L-RTM) production process has proven to reduce pollutant emissions (primarily styrene) 80 to 99% and polyester/polystyrene resin use can be reduced up to 20%. L-RTM technology also offers enormous potential to reduce work-place part per million (ppm) emissions and employee exposure to fugutive styrene (HAP) vapors. In order for the L-RTM production process to be adopted by the fiber reinforced plastics (FRP) industry, it must prove to produce parts of equal or superior performance at a cost that is competitive with the traditional (and polluting) open mold production process.

With a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, CMTI has conducted research at the Coating Applications Research Laboratory (CARL) to test the ultimate strength differences between L-RTM (using the innovative technologies) and traditional open mold technology. This research reviewed the technical aspects of the various innovative materials used in L-RTM and quantified strength and economic benefits. Several documents have been produced from this research:

On December 15, 2006, a L-RTM Workshop was presented by CMTI and sponsored by the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. The workshop topics included:


JHM Technologies
RTM - North


Project reports on testing CARL has done for manufacturers are available on the Technology Transfer website.


Copies of the following reports may be obtained by contacting CMTI at 765-463-4749:

  • Evaluation of Drying Time at Various Conditions of Several Low-VOC Water Reducible Coatings
  • Evaluation of New Types of Waterborne Coatings as Potential Replacements of Solvent (VOC) Based Coatings
  • Evaluation of Physical Properties of Water Borne Coatings in Comparison to Physical Properties of Solvent Borne Coatings
  • Evaluation of Readily Available Low VOC Coatings for Steel as Potential Replacements of High VOC-Containing Coatings in Order to Minimize VOC Emissions in Indiana
  • Evaluation of Steel Coatings Using Accererated Cyclic Tests of Temperature and Humidity
  • Evaluation of Three Types of Asphalt Emulsion Coatings
  • Evaluation of Wood Coating Cure Using Accelerated 24-Hour Cycle Test of Temperature and Humidity
  • Evaluation of Wood Coating Cure Using Long Cycle Test of Temperature and Humidity
  • Investigation of Accelerated Cure Processes for Water-based Coating Utilizing Catalytic Infrared Emitter and Hot Air as Sources of Energy
  • An Additional Investigation of Accelerated Cure Processes for Water-based Coating Utilizing Catalytic Infrared Emitter and Hot Air as Sources of Energy
  • Powder Cure Evaluation Using Electric and Gas Infrared Radiation as the Source of the Curing Energy
For more information please contact:

Coating Applications Research Laboratory
Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute
Center for the Environment
Discovery Park
Purdue University
2655 Yeager Rd., Suite 103
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Phone: 765-463-4749
Fax: 765-463-3795

CARL works with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's Compliance and Technical Assistance Office (CTAP) to provide the best available technical information for the surface coating industry. Visit their website at