RFP - Rubber Fibres Plastics International

Issue 04 | 2017


“Never have your dog stuffed!”

... is the title of the autobiography of Alan Alda [1]. Maybe you have read this wonderful book. Alda says that the expression “Never have your dog stuffed” is really an advice to himself, a reminder “not to avoid change or uncertainty, but to go with it, to surf into change.” Perhaps it would have been good to recommend this book to the protagonists of the latest Diesel summit in Germany. The dull mush of concerns, hesitations and misunderstood considerations, which were in the end communicated as a ‘breakthrough’ to the public, gave ample opportunity to shake one’s head in disbelief.
Why is change so difficult?

Perhaps because the path to global implementation of alternative mobility concepts - above all electro-mobility - is paved with a great amount of uncertainty, contradictory, and inconsistent figures and forecasts. In a recent excellent study presented by the Cologne-based consultants Struktur Management Partner, the analysts say that the identification of the leading key technology in automotive engineering is more difficult than ever [2]. This is perfectly true! Forecasts for the medium- and long-term development of sales figures and technologies in the automotive industry have never been more difficult than today. This is a particularly difficult situation for many small and medium-sized suppliers, who are not sure how to position themselves for the future.

But that change must come is clear for (almost) everyone.

Everyone knows it. “Tesla knows it. Volvo knows it. Hell, most of the automotive industry knows it.” In his article from 6 July 2017, MIT Technology Review editor Jamie Condliffe refers to a new BNEF study [3]. According to the key statement of the study in view of decreasing prices for batteries, “EVs are on track to accelerate to 54 % of new car sales by 2040” [4]. The big dilemma of such forecasts becomes brutally visible when one looks at the BNEF forecast from a year ago. There, the share of EVs was expected to be only at 35 % by 2040.

Regardless of fixed figures, there is a lot of consent that the 2020s will see a major breakthrough in e-mobility and become the decade when electric cars take over. One hundred years after the “Roaring” Twenties, we might experience the “Quiet” Twenties.

We cannot avoid uncertainty, but we can, as Alan Alda suggested, surf uncertainty. Never have your dog stuffed. Do not cling to old habits. And learn to live with the uncertainty about the current state of the cat in the box.

Kind regards
Stephanie Waschbüsch

[1] Alan Alda, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed And Other Things I’ve Learned, Random House, New York 2006.
[2] Struktur Management Partner GmbH, Spreu und Weizen. Welche KMU-Automobilzulieferer schaffen den Strukturwandel, welche nicht?
[3] Jamie Condliffe, By 2040, More Than Half of All New Cars Could Be Electric, MIT Technology Review, 6 July 2017
(Thanks to Denis Hicks for the inspiration).
[4] Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), Electric Vehicle Outlook 2017.


The sound of e-mobility? – Alternative fuel cars will change the nature of automotive acoustic packages

The 4th International ATZ Conference on Vehicle Acoustics, Ruschlikon, Switzerland (11 – 12 July 2017) attracted over 250 experts from 17 countries. All segments of the automotive supply chain, from raw material suppliers to OEMS, discussed the implications of electric and hybrid vehicles on internal car acoustics. The impacts are significant. The masking noise of the internal combustion is removed and replaced by high frequency noise from electric motors, more awareness of road and wind noise and important frequency shifts in vibrations causing structure and airborne sounds. The rise of autonomous vehicles will remove constraints on the acoustic package imposed by having to provide a driver experience. More importantly, electric and hybrid cars are a new mobility experience which OEMs would like to brand to enhance customer loyalty. The acoustic package of electric vehicles is key to finding the sound of e-mobility.


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Biofuel compatibility of sealing materials at low temperatures

The combination of very good biofuel compatibility with excellent low-temperature properties is of major importance to the automotive industry. Changes in regulatory boundary conditions and tapping of new markets have increasingly been initiating new developments in this field. Parker has developed FKM compounds with TR10 values of -30 °C, -35 °C, -40 °C and -45 °C whose relative changes in physical properties following storage in FAM B, E85 and KGS (VW first fill fuel) are comparable. Furthermore, the performance of these compounds with respect to their sealing ability at very low temperatures was investigated in compression set tests at -25 °C down to -50 °C.


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Horizontal bandknife splitting machine for cellular rubber and polyethylene – Special machine design for splitting thin layers

The splitting and winding-up of thin layers made of soft and sticky material is a big challenge for the foam industry. The processing of cellular rubber is sometimes very difficult. Available on the market for more than 20 years, the H 42 A is a worldwide renowned loop splitting line in the cellular rubber and PE industry. Fecken-Kirfel, as a specialist for splitting machines, has developed the H 42 A further, so that very thin layers from 0.5 mm can be split and wound-up reliably and almost fully automated. A special material guidance allows a wrinkle-free wind-up of the material. With the H 42 A difficult cellular rubber qualities can also be processed and precise layer thicknesses from 0.5 mm to 15 mm, depending on the material qualities, can be achieved.


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New Nordel EPDM developments for automotive sealing applications

Herein we investigate the molecular structures of EPDMs derived from different ­catalyst technologies and their effect on performance with automotive weather ­sealing profile extrusion as target application. Dow’s recent development of ­advanced molecular catalysts (AMC) enables new molecular design capabilities to surpass the performance of the previous generation of single site catalyst (SSC) EPDMs. New ­capabilities entail higher molecular weight, broader molecular weight ­distribution, more homogeneous long chain branching and higher diene content. All these ­polymer attributes were thought to be associated only with ZN catalyzed EPDMs till now, however, Nordel 6565 XFC (XFC: extra fast cure) is characterized by these attributes and has been specifically designed for fast dense extrusion processes. Its ­molecular geometry anticipates high performance during processing (green strength, ­curing speed). As a final part the Nordel 6565 XFC EPDM is compared to conventional, ­state-of-the art SSC and Ziegler-Natta (ZN) derived EPDMs.


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Deciphering the silica/silane reaction mechanism for the development of a new generation of low rolling resistance tires

By use of suitable organic silanes and controlled mixing conditions, silica/silane systems have proven to be well suited for tire tread formulations with reduced rolling resistance. The bifunctional organosilane is able to react with the silica surface as well as with the polymer. However, silica compounds still present considerable difficulties in processing. The kneader is not only a mixing aggregate but has to fulfill the role of a chemical reactor. It is known from former studies, that the reaction between the silica and the silane is complex. It is up to now not sufficiently understood. Therefore, a better understanding would help many tire producers to control the mixing process more efficiently. Part 1 has shown how Operando IR spectroscopy can be employed to decipher the reaction mechanism. In part 2 the method is used to investigate the reaction of several silica samples with different silanol group densities. Molecular modelling has been used in order to understand the sterical aspects of the reaction. The gained knowledge was used to develop two new silica/silane systems for passenger car tire treads. Their properties in tire treads have been investigated.


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Enhancing the electrical conductivity of incompatible polymer blends

A novel two-step mixing process was investigated, in which carbon black fillers are added to a nitrile butadiene rubber/ethylene propylene diene monomer mixture in different sequences.


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Innovating the carbon black industry with upcycled tires

Nowadays waste tires are either dumped or burned. The carbon blacks contained in these tires are thus not recycled and just wasted. Through an innovative pyrolysis process, the company Black Bear Carbon has managed to recover high-quality carbon black from waste tires. These “green” carbon blacks have outstanding properties and can completely replace ASTM standard carbon blacks. Thus, they are a sustainable alternative to the products normally used in polymers, plastics and rubber.


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Influence of HNBR ageing in oilfield applications

Elastomers are a popular class of materials in oilfield applications as down-hole packers, seals, gaskets etc., due to their soft, nearly elastic and nearly incompressible nature. However, the performance of those properties depends mainly on three factors in operation: the viscoelastic effects, working temperature and the surrounding media. Elevated application temperatures may lead to chemical degradations in the material, while various surrounding media may result in the absorption of liquid by the elastomer (swelling), extraction of soluble constituents from the elastomer or chemical reactions with the elastomeric material. Therefore, in the present work, the ageing behaviour (thermal and under the influence of swelling media) of hydrogenated acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (HNBR) in different conditions was characterised. Additionally, the Flory-Rehner theory for swelling, based on equilibrium swelling experiments was derived identifying the crosslink density changes in thermo-oxidative ageing. The results indicated that the thermal ageing process deteriorated the material leading to clearly decreasing tensile stress and elongation at break as well as damping properties. Additionally, the rigidity and the glass transition temperature of the material rises. In equilibrium swelling state, the mechanical properties were significantly reduced; however, they were fully restored in de-swollen state. The thermally aged samples demonstrated relatively low swelling behaviour and less mechanical property degradations compared to the virgin material. Based on the swelling amounts, the modified Flory-Rehner equation derives a relatively high crosslink density for thermo-oxidative aged samples compared to the virgin state, confirming the observed mechanical test results.


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Chlorohydrination of natural rubber latex using sodium hypochlorite for fuel resistant materials

Natural rubber is hydrophobic and unsuited for containers, hoses, and sealings or any other application that requires contact with hydrocarbon compounds. Herein, we report a simple method to increase the hydrophilicity of natural rubber. In this work, a chlorohydrination reaction of natural rubber latex using sodium hypochlorite is described. It was found that only chlorohydrinated natural rubber was obtained and side products were unnoticeable. The effects of sodium hypochlorite concentration, hydrochloric acid concentration, surfactant concentration, and reaction time on chloro­hydrin content in natural rubber were investigated. The swelling resistance of chlorohydrinated natural rubber with 11 % chlorohydrin content in diesel and gasohol fuels was improved nearly threefold and fourfold, respectively, compared to that of the unmodified natural rubber. The thermal and mechanical properties of the chloro­hydrinated natural rubber were characterized and found to be similar to those of pristine natural rubber, thereby indicating that the chlorohydrinated natural rubber can be an excellent substitute for natural rubber. This method has merits such as low cost of raw materials, easier and “greener” production processes than traditional methods, and scaling-up possibilities for the fabrication of chlorohydrinated natural rubber for a variety of applications.


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