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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber Development strides for SBR SBR (styrene-butadiene rubber), formed by a 1:3 ratio copolymerisation of styrene and butadiene, respectively, offers the value-added features of reduced rolling resistance and better grip, thus, it has a wide following among tyre manufacturers seeking to produce tyres that has lower carbon footprint and increased fuel efficiency. SBR is one of oldest synthetic rubbers, developed in the 1930s; and it has evolved since then using advanced processes. Today, SBR is the largest product segment of the synthetic rubber market, accounting for more than 30% share in 2014. SBR, which delivers better processability, heat ageing, and abrasion resistance, is primarily used in the manufacture of car tyres. Other applications of SBR include conveyor belts, gaskets, hoses, floor tiles, footwear, and adhesives. The emulsion-SBR and solution-SBR formulations are widely used for green tyres; and to meet the tyre labelling standards. The global SBR market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.36% from 2014-2019, according to Sandler Research in its report on the global SBR market. Meanwhile butadiene rubbers, synthetic and biobased, are predicted to top US$24 billion by 2024, owing to the expanding tyre industry size, according to Global Market Insights. Biobased butadiene is likely to reach a 13% CAGR from 2017-2024. Versalis (Eni), an Italy-based company, has a technology for green tyres that it had developed with Ecombine and EVE Rubber Institute, and is based on proprietary SSBR and Nd-HCBR technologies. The technology platform enables the development of new materials with enhanced mechanical performances and environment-friendly features, according to Versalis.

In 2013, it can be recalled that Versalis formed partnership with tyre maker Pirelli in developing guayule rubber, and can be considered to be among the pioneers that took keen interest in biobased rubbers. Versalis also formed a partnership with US-based biotechnology company Genomatica to develop the sugar-derived bio-butadiene (bio-BDE) technology and for which they had been recognised last year with an Environmental Achievement of the Year award at the European Tire Technology International Awards for Excellence and Innovation. Growing market for biobased EPDM The EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) market has huge demand from the automotive industry, accounting for a larger share of its market. EPDM offers high heat resistance, weather resistance, and vibration absorption, making it suitable for different applications. These include hoses, mechanical goods for under-the-hood applications, body sealing, weather-stripping, belts, engine mounts, brake parts, windshield wipers, and more, according to Markets and Markets in its report covering the US$7.2 billion EPDM market to 2020.

Biobased EPDM as alternative to fossil fuel-based synthetic rubber

For green tyres, biobased EPDM is opted amid the pressure on the industry to manufacture more vehicle tyres made from renewable raw materials. Arlanxeo also helps boost green tyre manufacturing with its range of Keltan EPDM products such as Keltan Eco EPDM rubber derived from biobased ethylene, supplied by Brazil’s Braskem. It was introduced as an alternative to conventional synthetic rubber from fossil raw materials. Accordingly, Arlanxeo has examined the combination of plasticiser oils and fillers for this bio-based rubber, to reduce the carbon footprint of the resulting compounds still further.

Versalis, together with Ecombine and Eve Rubber Institute created an innovative technology for high performance green tyres

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PRA January/February 2018 Issue  
PRA January/February 2018 Issue