Natural Rubber Composites Using Hydrothermally Carbonized Hardwood Waste Biomass as a Partial Reinforcing Filler- Part I: Structure, Morphology, and Rheological Effects during Vulcanization

Polymers (Basel). 2023 Feb 26;15(5):1176. doi: 10.3390/polym15051176.


A new generation biomass-based filler for natural rubber, ‘hydrochar’ (HC), was obtained by hydrothermal carbonization of hardwood waste (sawdust). It was intended as a potential partial replacement for the traditional carbon black (CB) filler. The HC particles were found (TEM) to be much larger (and less regular) than CB: 0.5-3 µm vs. 30-60 nm, but the specific surface areas were relatively close to each other (HC: 21.4 m2/g vs. CB: 77.8 m2/g), indicating a considerable porosity of HC. The carbon content of HC was 71%, up from 46% in sawdust feed. FTIR and 13C-NMR analyses indicated that HC preserved its organic character, but it strongly differs from both lignin and cellulose. Experimental rubber nanocomposites were prepared, in which the content of the combined fillers was set at 50 phr (31 wt.%), while the HC/CB ratios were varied between 40/10 and 0/50. Morphology investigations proved a fairly even distribution of HC and CB, as well as the disappearance of bubbles after vulcanization. Vulcanization rheology tests demonstrated that the HC filler does not hinder the process, but it significantly influences vulcanization chemistry, canceling scorch time on one hand and slowing down the reaction on the other. Generally, the results suggest that rubber composites in which 10-20 phr of CB are replaced by HC might be promising materials. The use of HC in the rubber industry would represent a high-tonnage application for hardwood waste.

PMID:36904417 | PMC:PMC10007617 | DOI:10.3390/polym15051176


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