Researchers Develop Self-Repairing Rubber Made From Waste

Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 10:27

Scientists have developed a new type of rubber which can be self-healing when the material is combined with a special catalyst.

The new rubber material, made from cheap and plentiful industrial waste products sulfur, canola cooking oil and dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) from petroleum refining, can be completely repaired and returned to its original strength in minutes—even at room temperature—with an amine catalyst, Phys.org reports.

The amine catalyst used to trigger the reaction that causes the rubber to self-repair occurs within minutes in some cases and it is all done at room temperature, scientists say.

"This study reveals a new concept in the repair, adhesion and recycling of sustainable rubber," says Associate Professor Chalker, adding too many plastics, rubbers and ceramics are not recyclable.

"It is exciting to see how the underlying chemistry of these materials has such wide potential in recycling, next-generation adhesives, and additive manufacturing."

Researchers from the Chalker Lab at the Flinders University Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, with University of Liverpool and University of Western Australia colleagues, say the new rubber can be used as a "latent adhesive".

"The rubber bonds to itself when the amine catalyst is applied to the surface. The adhesion is stronger than many commercial glues," says University of Liverpool researcher Dr. Tom Hasell. "The polymer is also resistant to water and corrosion."

Rubber bricks made out of this polymer can be chemically joined by applying the catalyst. "In some cases, the amine catalyst causes the rubber to bond in just minutes, and it can be done at room temperature," explains Flinders University lead author Sam Tonkin.

"The rubber can also be used as a latent adhesive, where it bonds to the surface of another piece of rubber when the amine catalyst is applied.

"Basically the rubber is not 'sticky' until the catalyst is applied."

In addition to the highly useful practical applications, the new paper gives detailed fundamental studies on the mechanisms of the rubber repair.

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