Rubber the naturally occurring wonder material
September 30, 2014

Rubber is a naturally occurring winder material.

Some historians sa Rubber has been in use since 1300 BC ! Wow that’s a long long time

Rubber was originally found in South America

But it is the invention and subsequent growth of the automobile industry that gave a fillip to the use of rubber.

Today, rubber is an important raw material in the manufacture of automotive tyres, rubber sheets, mattresses, several bushes washers and other industrial products as well as adhesives.

Today it is grown mostly in Asia.  Currently Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China, SriLanka and Vietnam are the major Rubber growing countries As the demand for Rubber grows, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and some African countries may also become big growers.

Natural Rubber (NR) is a pure biopolymer since it obtained entry from a tropical plant.As it is an agricultural product, NR is renewable.  It is carbon neutral like all plant products.  With depleting oil reserves NR will assume greater importance.

I recently came across a rally high quality book about Natural Rubber titled: Chemistry, Manufacture, and Applications of Natural RubberDr Shinzo Khjiya who is Emeritus Professor at Kyoto University and Dr Yuko Ikeda an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Material Technology at the Kyoto Institute of Technology.  It is comprehensive book with each chapter being contributed by well known experts from around the globe.  Contributors includeDr K Cornish of Ohio State Univeristy, Dr J E Puskas of Akron Engineering Research Center, Prof P Phinyocheep of Mahidol University in Thailand, Dr a Kato of NISSAN ARC LTD., Japan, Prof T Nakao of University of Tokyo, A  B Nair & R Joseph of our own Cochin University of Science and Technology, and Prof Hashim of Universiti Kuala Lumpur.  The above name is only a partial list.

The growing demand for more sustainable materials has led to increased research on the properties of natural rubber. Chemistry, Manufacture and Applications of Natural Rubber summarizes this research and its significance for the industrial applications of natural rubber.

Chapters in part one explore the properties and processing of natural rubber, including the biosynthesis of natural rubber in different rubber-producing species, chemical modification of natural rubber for improved performance, and the effect of strain-induced crystallization on the physical properties of natural rubber. Further chapters highlight hydrophobic and hydrophilic silica-filled cross-linked natural rubber and computer simulation of network formation in natural rubber. Part two focusses on applications of natural rubber, including eco-friendly bio-composites using natural rubber matrices and reinforcements, soft bio-composites from natural rubber and marine products, natural rubber for the tire industry, the application of epoxidized natural rubber in pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs), and the use of natural rubber for vibration isolation and earthquake protection of structures. Finally, chapters in part three consider environmental and safety issues associated with natural rubber, including improving the sustainable development of natural rubber, the recycling of natural and synthetic isoprene rubbers and of sulfur cross-linked natural rubber, and recent research on natural rubber latex allergy.

Chemistry, Manufacture and Applications of Natural Rubber is a comprehensive resource for academics, chemists, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, and other professionals in the rubber industry, as well as those industries, including automotive, civil, and medical engineering, using natural rubber products.

With growing concern for the environment, and anxiety about the depletion and possible eventual exhaustion of Petroleum, the quest for naturally occurring, renewable materials is speeding up.  In this context, the importance of natural rubber will continuously grow.