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  • Writer's pictureRubber Conversion

Rubber Conversion alongside Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste to evolve rubber devulcanisation

We are proud to announce a project together with Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste, a center of absolute excellence in multidisciplinary research, open to the international scientific community and specialized in the generation of synchrotron light and high-quality free electron lasers and their applications in materials and life sciences.

The project aims at obtaining and developing a deeper understanding of the fundamental chemical-physical mechanisms underlying the devulcanisation of rubber with respect to the random splitting of polymer chains, paying close attention to the tertiary and quaternary structure of the polymers themselves.

What is it all about?

The initial devulcanisation process developed is based on a chemical-physical-mechanical process at low temperature and ambient pressure, activated by a devulcanizing agent (covered by industrial secrecy) with a very low environmental impact, which selectively breaks the bonds of the sulfur bridges, leaving the mechanical properties of the mixture virtually intact.

The project, activated with Elettra Sincrotrone, therefore aims to improve the initial devulcanisation technology by making it progressively specific for application to different polymers so as to lay the foundations for the development of finished compounds using functional additives for specific applications.

In detail...

The research was developed through the use of technologies for the physicochemical investigation of the microstructures of solid materials such as the following:

  1. Micro Xray Computed Tomography Micro CT- uses X-rays to create cross-sections of a solid material that can be used to recreate a three-dimensional model without destroying the primary and secondary structure of rubber layers or polymer products. The technique allows the three-dimensional visualization of internal microstructures by highlighting the characteristics of microporosity, and specific exchange surfaces within the microstructures of a sample and gathering both qualitative and quantitative information on the morphology of the sample's macrostructure, such as average micropore size, material compaction, distribution of different microstructural components, etc.

  2. X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) in fluorescence mode XAS spectroscopy with synchrotron light provides structural microscopic information about a sample under investigation by analyzing its X-ray absorption spectrum. It allows the determination of the chemical surroundings of an individual element in terms of the number and type of attachments, interatomic distances, and structural disorder.

  3. ATR (Attenuated Total Reflection) -FTIR The ATR Sampling Technique uses infrared light to obtain information about the chemical nature of the material, the type of chemical bonds present, and their relationship; e.g. analysis of band shifts with respect to a standard, or band broadenings-shortenings, can give information about the conformation/order of the polymer chains under investigation.

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