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New insight into how rubber is made could improve tires, reduce air pollution

Date:
February 11, 2015
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
People have been making rubber products from elastic bands to tires for centuries, but a key step in this process has remained a mystery.Scientists have now described this elusive part of rubber production that could have major implications for improving the material and its uses. Their findings, if used to improve tire performance, for example, could mean higher gas mileage for consumers and less air pollution.
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People have been making rubber products from elastic bands to tires for centuries, but a key step in this process has remained a mystery. In a report in the ACS journal Macromolecules, scientists have described this elusive part of rubber production that could have major implications for improving the material and its uses. Their findings, if used to improve tire performance, for example, could mean higher gas mileage for consumers and less air pollution.

Yuko Ikeda and colleagues note that a chemical process called vulcanization has been critical for the manufacturing of quality rubber since the second half of the 1800s. Chemists have improved the process, but progress has largely plateaued in recent years. If scientists could gain insight into the details of vulcanization, they could further tweak it to make even better rubber. Ikeda's team set out to uncover a key step in this process.

Using the latest analytical techniques, the researchers discovered a previously unknown structure that forms during vulcanization. The new observation could contribute to making the ubiquitous material even better. For the auto industry, resulting improvements in tire performance could translate to fuel savings and lower emissions, the researchers say.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Izumi Science and Technology Foundation.


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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yuko Ikeda, Yoritaka Yasuda, Takumi Ohashi, Hiroyuki Yokohama, Shinya Minoda, Hisayoshi Kobayashi, Tetsuo Honma. Dinuclear Bridging Bidentate Zinc/Stearate Complex in Sulfur Cross-Linking of Rubber. Macromolecules, 2015; 48 (3): 462 DOI: 10.1021/ma502063m

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "New insight into how rubber is made could improve tires, reduce air pollution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150211124018.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2015, February 11). New insight into how rubber is made could improve tires, reduce air pollution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150211124018.htm
American Chemical Society. "New insight into how rubber is made could improve tires, reduce air pollution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150211124018.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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