Synthetic rubber is a human-made rubber manufactured from petroleum and other minerals. Synthetic rubber is a polymer or an artificial polymer in its simplest form.
It has the ability to expand or bend elastically under stress, but it also has the ability to return to its original size without permanent deformation. Different forms and uses of synthetic rubber are discussed on this list.
HISTORY OF SYNTHETIC RUBBER
The elastomers that make up the backbone of synthetic rubber date back to the first half nineteenth century when researchers attempted to decode the composition and structure of natural rubber in order to reproduce it.
In 1838 the German F.C Himly extracted a volatile distillate from rubber and in 1860 Greville Williams distilled the substance into three parts: oil, tar, and spirit with the latter being the more volatile fraction and the main constituent which Williams called isoprene.
In 1875, the Frenchman Georges Bouchardat used hydrogen chloride gas and prolonged distillation to transform isoprene into a rubber-like material and in 1882 another Briton, W.A. Tilden used destructive distillation of turpentine to manufacture isoprene.
WHAT IS SYNTHETIC RUBBER?
Rubber is essentially useless in its natural state. The rubber produced is only used to create a variety of rubber products after certain chemicals are applied.
In certain instances, synthetic rubber is used to replace natural rubber. Synthetic rubber can be as hard as a bowling ball, as resilient as a rubber band, or as soft as a sponge depending on the chemicals applied and the properties associated with it.
Synthetic rubber is used when better material properties are needed. About 70 percent of all rubber used today is a synthetic rubber, which comes in a variety of forms.
HOW IS SYNTHETIC RUBBER MANUFACTURED?
The key raw material used to make synthetic rubber forms is petrochemical feedstocks. The primary raw material is crude oil. In the category of synthetic rubber two types of gases also play a role in the production of general types.
Butadiene is used to make Butadiene Rubber and styrene is used to make Styrene Butadiene Rubber. Butadiene is a petroleum refining byproduct and styrene is captured either in the coking phase or as a byproduct of petroleum refining.
When these two gases combine in the presence of soapsuds in a reactor, liquid latex is formed. The dry rubber is coagulated into crumbs, washed, dried, and baled for shipment in this milky liquid.
PROPERTIES OF SYNTHETIC RUBBER
Synthetic rubber comes in a variety of forms, each with its own set of characteristics. The following are some of the most common characteristics of synthetic rubber
- Exceptional Abrasion resistance
- Better Elasticity
- Good Heat and ageing tolerance.
- Insulation material for electrical appliances
- Low-temperature flexibility
- Flame resistant
- Grease and oil resistant
USES OF SYNTHETIC RUBBER
- Styrene-butadiene rubber is a general-purpose rubber with improved abrasion resistance, weaker low-temperature behavior, lower elasticity, improved ageing and heat resistance, and excellent electrical insulation properties. Conveyor belts, seals, and technical rubber goods are all examples of applications.
- Polybutadiene rubber is a form of rubber that isn’t used on its own. It’s used in conjunction with SBR or NR. It has strong elasticity and is flexible at low temperatures. Tires, clutches, engine bearings, conveyor belts, and drinking water seals are all examples of applications.
- Isoprene rubber is a more consistent, smoother, and clear rubber. They are used in technical items such as building parts, vehicle heating, and cooling hoses, tires, and food utensils.
- Fuel and oil resistance, good temperature properties, and abrasion resistance are all features of acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber. Motor vehicle parts, oil hoses, electrical items, mats, covers, seals, rollers, and foodstuffs such as milk all use this material.
- Grease-proof and flame retardant, chloroprene rubber is also resistant to oil, ageing, abrasion, and weathering. Conveyor belts, drive belts, clutches, all kinds of technical devices, wires, and pneumatic suspension systems are all examples of applications.
- Butyl rubber is resistant to ozone, toxins, and ageing. It has excellent mechanical and insulating qualities. It is abrasion-resistant and has a low gas permeability. Rubberized fabrics, hoses, and cable insulation are all used in vehicle hoses, seals, membranes, inner tire liners, and rubberized fabrics.
IS SYNTHETIC RUBBER RENEWABLE?
There are a variety of questions to remember when it comes to synthetic rubber’s long-term viability. It can be manufactured anywhere that petrochemical byproducts can go because it is produced via a petrochemical process.
Petrochemicals, on the other hand, are difficult to extract and are not a renewable resource, so we can run out of them one day.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES SYNTHETIC RUBBER
Synthetic rubber is a perfect choice for rubber gaskets, seals, and other items because of its excellent abrasion resistance and ability to bind to metals.
Owing to its excellent heat resistance and ageing properties, synthetic rubber also performs well in high temperatures. Synthetic rubber should not be used in applications involving ozone, strong acids, oils, greases, fats, or hydrocarbons.
While synthetic rubber has numerous advantages, it also has some drawbacks. Its mechanical properties aren’t great enough. Its tensile strength is extremely low and tear strength is also inadequate.
Synthetic rubber is not biodegradable since it is made of inorganic materials. The natural rubber has the advantage of being biodegradable and reusable since it is extracted from plants.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. IS SYNTHETIC RUBBER BETTER THAN NATURAL RUBBER?
In terms of temperature tolerance, ageing resistance and abrasion-resistant synthetic rubber outperform natural rubber. Synthetic rubber is, therefore, less expensive to manufacture. Natural rubber on the other hand is known for being a solid, versatile, and heat-resistant material that is used to make latex products. In the end, the application determines which form of rubber is better.
2. IS SYNTHETIC RUBBER DURABLE?
Synthetic rubber is generally more durable and long-lasting than natural rubber. These characteristics are primarily due to the material’s resistance to toxins, extremes of temperature, ozone, sunshine, and weathering.
3. ARE TYRES MADE OF SYNTHETIC RUBBER?
Both tires are made up of a combination of natural and synthetic rubbers. Fuel performance, wear, and grip are all improved by the addition of silica and long-length carbons. Different manufacturers use different ratios depending on what they want to do with a particular tire.
Because of its extreme toughness, weather ability, and temperature resistance, synthetic rubber is the best rubber material available on the market today.
We hope you find this quick guide to its properties, benefits, drawbacks, and applications to be useful. Synthetic rubber is only one kind of rubber that is used in the industry.
Check out our Types of Rubber and Their Properties article for more detail, or follow us on Instagram to stay up to date