By David Shaw, ERJ staff
Port Elizabeth, South Africa -- A new additive holds the prospect of eliminating zinc oxide entirely from the tyre and rubber industry's compounding manuals.
This extraordinary claim follows three years of research by Robert Bosch, a young South African chemistry graduate who runs a company called Rubber Nano Products (Pty) Ltd. In case anyone doubts his claims, however, they are backed by respected industry professionals.
As of now, said Bosch, â€œWe can eliminate zinc oxide. Not just reduce it, but eliminate it completely.â€œÂ
There is more. Bosch added, â€œwe have been able to show a 46 percent reduction in cure time for standard sulphenamide / thiazole / thiuram curing packages, and there is no change in scorch time."
He added, almost superfluously, â€œit is cost-effective."
Bosch's initial focus was in the tyre tread area, but he said he expects there will be products on the market for use by makers of hoses, belts and other non -tyre products during 2009.
Bosch said the new material â€œchanges the way you think about vulcanisation.â€ The real discovery, he said, is that â€œwe have discovered a method of chemistry that is far more active than zinc oxide.â€ He estimated that the new material offers a weight reduction of the order of a million-fold with respect to zinc oxide.
This means, he said, that the material is extremely active. It is also bio-safe, environment friendly and "ticks all those boxes too," he added.
Although Bosch was reluctant to release any details of the chemistry, he said, â€œIt alters the dosing levels of accelerators and the behaviour of accelerators. There are no more semi-accelerators, ultra-accelerators or similar concepts. These products behave differently because of the efficiency of the reaction.â€
Although the technology remains a secret, Bosch said he has conference papers prepared ready for when he goes properly public with this. â€œWe are waiting until we have the results of the final trials in, but as soon as those are ready, we can stand on a podium and say exactly what we did, how it works and what the new chemistry is and how it offers big savings and other benefits.â€
A full article on this subject appears in the coming issue of ERJ