Applied Research

Investigation of Pseudo-Thermoplastic Elastomers by Extrusion - Compounding of De-vulcanized Elastomeric Waste and Compatible Thermoplastics

NRT Canada Inc. 

Challenge/Opportunity:

Recent technological advances in the de-vulcanization of waste elastomer scrap allows for the creation of a new category of polymeric materials. De-vulcanization technology developed by New Rubber Technologies (“NRT” or the “Company”) produces elastomeric raw materials technically and economically suitable for blending with thermoplastics. The resultant blends mimic the physical and processing properties of co- and ter- block thermoplastic elastomers.

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) represent a large market segment of polymeric materials where elastomeric properties are achieved employing thermoplastic processing techniques. Typical elastomer properties such high elongation (greater than 100%), Shore A hardness (40-80) and high coefficient of friction are achieved using thermoplastic processes such as injection molding and sheet thermoforming. At lower inclusion levels (less than 50%) de-vulcanized elastomer waste represents a thermoplastic modifier capable of improving properties such as impact strength.

The aim of the proposed project is development of these potential materials by maximizing their physical and chemical properties through enhanced mixing of the constituent materials. The development of twin screw extruder screw configurations and mixing procedures to maximize desired material properties will be required to optimize material efficacy and the displacement of existing virgin materials in the marketplace.

Solution/Collaboration:

By technically improving the function of recycled waste, the economic feasibility of waste diversion and greenhouse gas mitigation is enhanced. Displacement of new hydrocarbon based polymeric materials as well as diversion from landfill of industrial waste reduces the environmental impact within the industry. The upgrading of recycled materials to highest possible technical standards creates a competitive advantage for industry due to lower raw material input costs. Should alternate energy sources surpass petroleum derived fuels, the need for hydrocarbons to produces elastomers and thermoplastics will still exist. Repurposing of waste petroleum based materials adds to efforts to reduce fossil fuel extraction and mitigate climate altering emissions.

With respect to benefits accrued by the academic partner, the project allows students and faculty access to 70 years of industry knowledge as represented by NRT’s core technical development team. In Canada’s Green Economy, a technological advance in materials processing will provide possible future employment for students taking part in this study. Overall the experience of working with industry on the real world problem of waste diversion will enhance the scientific knowledge base of the participating institution and its faculty and students.


Funder:

NSERC-ARD1

Area: Advanced Material Development

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