SafeRubber Project Reaches Mid-point
Since June 2010 the SafeRubber Consortium, has been working on a suitable and safer alternative to ETU. Thiourea based accelerators, of which ETU is the most common, are used for more than 80 years in the vulcanization of polychloroprene rubber as they facilitate the rubber cure system by speeding up the creation of molecular cross links, decreasing process duration and increasing physical properties. However, ETU is classed toxic to reproduction, and thereby a CMR within Europe. Therefore its use could be forbidden or drastically reduced at some time in the future under the REACH regulations.
The initial work of SafeRubber concentrated on research into the chemical mechanism of the vulcanization of polychloroprene using ETU, a mechanism which has never been fully understood or proven. This enabled the Consortium to design and synthesize several alternative molecules which it is hoped will be safer than ETU. These molecules are now being optimized in polychloroprene compounds before being scaled up to an industrial process.
The mid-point results of the three-year research based project are available on the project’s web site.
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