Bedford Park, Australia – Australian scientists have developed a new type of self-repairing rubber, made entirely from waste materials, which they claim can be used to produce new tires, among other things.
The rubber, made from cheap industrial waste products such as sulphur, canola cooking oil and dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) from petroleum refining, can be “completely repaired and returned to its original strength in minutes,” according to a new paper published in Chemical Science.
The process employs an amine catalyst to trigger the reaction that causes the rubber to self-repair, in some cases at room temperature, explained research leader Flinders University Associate Professor Justin Chalker.
“This study reveals a new concept in the repair, adhesion and recycling of sustainable rubber,” Chalker said, noting that too many plastic, rubber and ceramic materials 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,” Chalker added.
Developed as part of a research project between the Flinders University Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, University of Liverpool and University of Western Australia, the new rubber has also been billed 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.”
Once compressed and heated with fillers such as recycled PVC, waste plant fibres or sand, the rubber is also claimed to create sustainable construction materials.