|Researcher: Thomas Elliot|
Sponsors: DTI, EPSRC and industry. Partners include Clwyd
Compounders, Bangor University, Central Science Laboratory, Northeast Biofuels,
Dow Halterman, Biofuels Corporation, Innospec
Aims and Objectives
This project aims to develop value-added chemicals and materials from
co-products, to improve the economics of biodiesel manufacture and hence,
increase marketability and uptake of this renewable fuel. Loughborough
University’s part in the project was to investigate the use of rapemeal as a
filler in rubber compounds. Experiments carried out have shown that blending of
gelatinised protein with carboxylated nitrile (XNBR) rubber latex results in a
material 10 times stiffer and 4 times stronger than the unreinforced rubber.
Research Carried Out
Experiments were carried out in which protein was mixed with water, heated
and dissolved/gelatinised. The protein “solution” was then blended with XNBR
latex, sheet cast and dried. The cast sheet was then moulded for 5 min. at
150°C. Tensile tests and SEM analysis was then carried out on the resulting
Results showed that the presence of the protein causes great increase in
stiffness and strength of the rubber up to a concentration of about 50 parts per
hundred rubber (phr) (Figure 1a). The strong reinforcement was attributed to 2
- Firstly, latex blending was able to produce a much smaller particle sizes
(Figure 1c) than conventional mixing (Figure 1b)
- Secondly, ionomer type crosslink were developed between the carboxylate
groups on the rubber and on the protein.
Figure: (a) Stress/strain curves for XNBR containing
different amounts of protein, (b) SEM image of conventionally mixed compound,
(c) SEM image of latex mixed compound
This research project contributes to the development of an emergent renewable
fillers industry for rubber and other polymeric composite materials. A practical
new method of dispersive mixing (gelatinisation) has been developed and may be
suitable for mixing many biopolymers into rubber. Further development may
facilitate the application of renewable bio-fillers in rubber products.
Department of Materials, formerly named the Institute of Polymer Technology
and Materials Engineering has roots going back virtually 40 years and throughout
this time we have been contributing to the advancement and application of
knowledge in Materials Science and Engineering by means of teaching, scholarship
and research. Our philosophy is based on the engineering application and use of
materials which, when processed, are altered in structure and properties. This
encompasses design considerations and business implications.
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