London – Asahi Kasei’s project for the development of next-generation styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) materials came out top in the inaugural staging of ERJ’s new Elastomers for Sustainability (E4S) initiative.
The E4S judging panel put the Japanese group’s entry just ahead of almost equally rated projects from Trinseo and Russian petrochemicals company ETB in terms of their potential significance for the global tire and rubber/elastomer products industry.
Indeed, there was little to choose between the SBR technology projects from Asahi and Trinseo, both featuring leading-edge functionalisation and polymerisation technologies – with the level of technical detail in the former’s entry being the slim deciding factor for the expert panel.
Joint runner-up ETB’s development of a new catalyst system to increase the energy-efficiency and yield of the Lebedev bioethanol-to-butadiene process impressed the judges, not least in terms of the chemistry, process technology and progress towards commercial scale-up.
Tyromer also came close to topping the table due to the stand-out progress being made by the company in the field of devulcanisation. The judges’ high rating reflected both the importance attached to this recycling route and the technical and commercial challenges involved.
Projects involving the innovative use of sustainable feedstock in general rubber goods was another strong feature of the E4S Top 10 Table – as evidenced by fourth-placed Continental’s commercialisation of a garden hose product based on a bio-EPDM from Arlanxeo, and fifth place Covestro’s application of CO2-based polymers for sport surfacing materials.
Behn Meyer continued progress with the development of epoxidised natural rubber filler technology, the innovative mixing technology behind Cabot’s engineered elastomer composites and Flinders University’s advances in the field of self-repairing rubber respectively took the next three slots on the table.
Rounding up an impressive Top 10 was Mitsubishi Chemical Performance Polymers’ project for the incorporation of renewable carbon in a wide range of elastomer products and Kraton’s IMSS technology, which is expected to challenge slush-moulded PVC in automotive instrument panel skin applications.
Click here for full details of the inaugural E4S programme and Top 10 Table.