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Natural rubber is a polymer that is readily synthesised from specific plants

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Chemistry Open Book Aswani Pillai 6L3 07-05-2006 1) Natural rubber is a polymer that is readily synthesised from specific plants. All the chemical reactions have taken place in the plant, and the rubber is extracted, in the form of latex; a sticky substance. Latex, like synthetic rubber, has polymer chains, produced by means of additional polymerisation, which occurred inside the plant. However, natural rubber cannot be used by itself, to make tyres due to its thermoplastic nature. Thermoplastic means materials melting when reheated, as the polymer chains run by each other, as they are not held in place. Synthetic rubber has no such limitations, as they are manufactured and produced with desired thermoset properties, meaning that they will not melt when reheated. A key difference of natural rubber, to synthetic, is that it is restricted, as it can only come from select countries, but synthetic rubber is manmade. ...read more.


However, its thermoplastic property is not desirable in tyres. Vulcanised rubber is an upgrade of natural rubber, founded by Charles Goodyear accidentally, as it has an increased strength. By heating sulphur to the polymers, strong covalent bonds are made between polymer chains by sulphur bridges. This is cross-linking and it increases durability and wear of tyre, as the polymer chain movement is limited, as the chains can not slide past each other, due to the covalent links, disabling it to melt in the summer or to become brittle in winter. Therefore, vulcanising rubber improves overall tyre quality as it is harder than natural and also durable. Rubber Properties Butadiene Rubber * Eliminates cracking * Good wear * Low heat build up SBR * Easy to produce * Good wear * Long life span * Low cost Butyl Rubber * Good air maintenance * Good heat resistance 3) Adapted from: SALTERS Open Book Paper, Article 1 'Get tyred with chemistry', Table 2 page 5 Additives Properties Oil * Brittle ...read more.


The benzene in the oil is used to form cumene, by reacting it with propene: C6H6 + C3H6 C6H5CH(CH3)2 Next, the cumene is used to produce peroxide by thermal decomposition: C6H5CH(CH3)2 C14H10O4 This is then decomposed more to give phenol and propanone: C14H10O4 C6H5OH There are many uses of phenol, and these include antiseptic properties and to construct thermosetting electrical equipment. Lastly as the decomposition of tyres produces carbon black, used in ink and paint, but the more preferred applications of carbon black, which is achieved by converting it into activated carbon via acid wash: C(S) + acid wash Activated carbon. Activated carbon is a "highly porous carbonaceous with high surface area" [4b] and adsorbs any gas and able to eradicate any pollutants, due to its sulphur compounds left over from vulcanisation. This is extremely useful in industry, to remove mercury- a toxic metal. Normally, to clean up mercury would be expensive, but nowadays it is cheaper by using the result of tyre decomposition. Activated carbon can also be used as decolourizing liquid. ...read more.

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