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Lanxess at the International Rubber Conference 2015

Constant focus on sustainability

The opportunities that Keltan products from Lanxess open up for customers are also the focus of a presentation on "Green EPDM compounds". Rubber of course often accounts for only a small fraction of the compounds used in many rubber-based products. Lanxess specialists have conducted a thorough study of the additives and fillers that can be used to make Keltan Eco rubber products even more sustainable. Positive results have been achieved by using vegetable oils and natural hydrocarbons such as squalene in compounds made from "green" EPDM rubber from Lanxess, for which the ethylene component is derived from renewable sugarcane crops. It is important for the polarity to be right and for unsaturated content to be taken into account in vulcanization. Soot from burning waste tires can also be effective here - using it is sustainable because it reduces waste and the tires also contain natural rubber. The Lanxess specialists are also exhibiting a Keltan Eco seal for use in automobiles that is made up of 90 percent sustainable components and delivers properties largely similar to those of conventional EPDM products - including high aging resistance up to 125°C.

An even broader perspective on the topic of sustainability and rubber will be provided in a Lanxess presentation on "Sustainability and high quality in the rubber industry - a global approach". Here it is argued that sustainability should not just be seen as a term for producing eco-friendly products - the benefits derived throughout their entire life cycles should be evaluated and consumption of energy and resources during production should also be analyzed critically. Positive examples of this approach include the lower levels of water and gas consumed in the production of the new "Green Finishing" Baypren grades (chloroprene rubber) and the reduced fuel consumption achieved by using Therban (HNBR) toothed belts for valve trains in combustion engines. The challenges that arise when finding a balance between lightweight design and comfort requirements when developing materials for tires will be analyzed in a separate presentation.

Not just rubber - compounding remains an important topic

The compounding specialists from the Rhein Chemie Additives business unit at Lanxess will be presenting ethylene thiourea-free (ETU-free) crosslinking systems for a range of rubber grades. Given the toxic properties of ETU, there is a high level of global interest in this topic. One of the many examples is a crosslinking system using MTT-80 and Rhenogran HPCA-50 for chloroprene rubber, which not only replaces ETU but can also contribute to increased aging resistance - especially in combination with new Baypren grades.

"Another development we would like to draw specialist attention to in Nuremberg is our Rhenowave in-line quality control system for the production of rubber compounds," says Philipp Junge, head of the Business Line Rubber Additives at Rhein Chemie Additives. This highly innovative process uses ultrasonic pulses to monitor key properties of the rubber compound - especially homogeneity - during the extrusion stage. Rhenowave thus helps reduce both rejection rates and production costs. The Rhein Chemie Additives business unit at Lanxess itself is currently implementing Rhenowave in its own production of bladders. The extensive Rhein Chemie Additives portfolio of high-performance sulfur crosslinking systems and anti-reversion agents will also be presented and the many practical applications discussed.

"In 2015, the Lanxess synthetic rubber pioneers are once again perfectly positioned to provide the industry with key impetus and help our creative partners on the global market become even more competitive," says de Vries. "The materials and expertise on sustainable products that we deliver not only ensure a reduced carbon footprint - they also make for faster, more cost-effective production processes. Rubber will certainly remain a key material in the decades ahead, but the challenges are already increasing - and Lanxess is equipped to address them!"