Australian scientists develop new recyclable rubber materials that can repair themselves on demand

According to the foreign media New Atlas report, imagine that if your car tire punctures in the future, you only need to apply a chemical substance to make the rubber seamlessly blend together without replacing the tire. This is the breakthrough now reported by researchers at Flinders University in Australia, and better yet, this material is made from waste products and can be easily recycled.

This new material is composed of more than 50% sulfur and is mixed with some rapeseed oil and a compound called dicyclopentadiene (DCPD). This unusual blend makes it a versatile and sustainable new type of rubber. But the strangest thing is that this material is a "latent adhesive". The missing ingredient is an amine catalyst. Once coated with this catalyst, the rubber will become very sticky, allowing it to fully bond with itself without losing any strength.

"When the amine catalyst is applied to the surface, the rubber will bind to itself," said Tom Hasell, author of the study. "This adhesion is stronger than many commercial glues. This polymer also has water and corrosion resistance." The team said that this bonding can be done at room temperature in just a few minutes. This may make it very useful in repairing rubber products such as tires, and when they have reached the end of their useful life, they are easier to recycle.

In addition, as an additional advantage, the three main components that make these things are industrial waste. For example, DCPD is a by-product of petroleum refining. This means that the production of this new material is both cheap and environmentally friendly.

"This research reveals new concepts for the repair, adhesion and recycling of sustainable rubber," said Justin Chalker, the research's lead researcher. "It's great to see that the basic chemistry of these materials has such a wide range of potentials in recycling, next-generation adhesives and additive manufacturing, which is exciting."

The research was published in the journal "Chemical Science". The team described this work in the video below.

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