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Thermoset recycling via high-pressure high-temperature sintering: Revisiting the effect of interchange chemistry

Jeremy Edward Morin, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In 1844 Charles Goodyear obtained U.S. Patent #3,633 for his “Gum Elastic Composition”. In a published circular, which describes his patent for the sulfur vulcanization of gum elastic composition, he stated: “No degree of heat, without blaze, can melt it (rubber)… It resists the most powerful chemical reagents. Aquafortis (nitric acid), sulphuric acid, essential and common oils, turpentine and other solvents… …” Goodyear's sulfur vulcanization of rubber fueled much of the industrial revolution and made transportation possible, as it exists today. In doing so, Goodyear created one of the most difficult materials to recycle. Rubber will not melt, dissolve, or lend itself to the usual methods of chemical decomposition. Ironically, Goodyear recognized this problem and in 1853 he patented the process of adding ground rubber to virgin material, now currently known as regrind blending. Today, scrap tires represent one of the most serious sources of pollution in the world. Studies estimate that there are roughly 2 billion scrap tires in U.S. landfills and more are being added at a rate of over 273 million tires per year. Current methods of recycling waste tires are crude, ineffective, and use rubber powder as a low cost filler instead of a new rubber. The groundwork for a very simple and effective method of producing high-quality rubber goods using 100% scrap rubber was discovered in 1944 by A. V. Tobolsky et al. This application, however, was not recognized until recently in our laboratory. The process as studied to date represents a method of creating quality, high-value added rubber goods with nothing other than heat and pressure. High pressure is required to obtain a void-free compaction of the rubber particles by forcing all of the free surfaces into intimate contact. High temperature then activates the chemical rearrangement, scission, and reformation of the chemical bonds thus providing new bridges between the once fractured interfaces. This occurs both within and between particles. The technique of high-pressure high-temperature sintering has worked on all types of thermoset materials. Typical mechanical properties for sintered SBR powder rubber are as follows: 1.3 MPa 100% Modulus, 12.0 MPa Tensile Strength and 300% Elongation at Break. The goal of this research is two-fold. First, to gain an understanding of the variables that control the process of high-pressure high-temperature sintering. Second, to study the factors governing the mechanism of fusion with the hope of controlling and exploiting this process so that tires can be recycled to produce high quality and high-value added products.

Subject Area

Polymers|Materials science|Automotive materials

Recommended Citation

Morin, Jeremy Edward, "Thermoset recycling via high-pressure high-temperature sintering: Revisiting the effect of interchange chemistry" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056263.