Robinson Brothers Ltd, a world leading specialist chemicals manufacturer, has recently embarked on a project funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) with academics from Aston University.
The project will use Aston’s expertise in advanced polymer synthesis to produce an innovative chemical approach for vulcanising rubber that operates at significantly lower temperatures to reduce energy consumption, costs and environmental impact.
This project will develop a new technology so that the rubber industry can process its materials at significantly lower temperatures. A reduction in process temperature of 30 – 50 °C will drastically reduce the energy consumption of the rubber sector, providing cost savings and a substantial reduction in the carbon footprint. Moreover, the novel technology platform will use greener chemicals with reduced toxicity, in place of the carcinogenic and mutagenic molecules currently used.
Although Robinson Brothers Ltd’s unique approach will reduce the processing temperature, it will maintain the performance of the rubber products. This project will demonstrate the effectiveness of the new technology on a simple polymer system, applicable to real life products, by revealing the full reaction pathway of the process for the first time.
Several companies in the UK across different rubber sectors have expressed interest in achieving lower temperature processing. There has also been interest from the Far East and America in this technology. Therefore, if successful, this project will provide a step change in energy consumption and carbon footprint across a range of users.
Dr Paul Topham from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and academic lead on the project said: ‘We are delighted to be working with Robinson Brothers on this project. Aston already has a strong working relationship with the company. We are currently collaborating on two long term research projects funded by EPSRC to develop safer accelerators for polychloroprene rubber, which have proved to be very successful. This project will enhance our relationship further and enable us put our academic theories into real life practice.’
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