It is promised to develop not just a better-performing synthetic rubber, but also the one which is sustainable. Recently, Bridgestone successfully created a new synthetic isoprene rubber (IR), the result of precise molecular structure control using a new polymerization catalyst. Bridgestone believes the new IR bears beneficial properties such as extraordinary durability and fuel-efficiency performance which surpass properties of natural rubber. In addition, the new rubber can be created from isoprene using renewable and recyclable biomass. Supposedly, Bridgestone will implement the technology into commercial application during the 2020s.

IR is produced using catalysts such as: lithium (Li), titanium (Ti) or neodymium (Nd). The company developed a new catalysts called gadolinium (Gd) It is known that Gd catalysts bear potential to allow for precise IR molecular structure control, but in the past this material could be used only at temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius, which made production process unviable. However, company’s newly developed Gd catalyst, features a structure designed to allow control for IR molecular structure at temperatures above 40°C (the range commonly used in manufacturing processes). Moreover, the new Gd catalyst demonstrates activity of 1,800 cycle min-1, roughly 600 times higher than the activity of conventional Gd catalysts, making its use all the more practical.

Article source: Tyre Press