ZnO is a worldwide used activator for a rubber vulcanization process, which promotes fast curing kinetics and high cross-linking densities of rubber nanocomposites (NCs). However, its extended use together with leaching phenomena occurring during the production and life cycle of rubber products, especially tires, entails potential environmental risks, as ecotoxicity toward aquatic organisms. Pushed by this issue, a novel activator was developed, which introduces highly dispersed and active zinc species in the vulcanization process, reducing the amount of employed ZnO and keeping high the curing efficiency. The activator is constituted by Zn(II) single sites, anchored on the surface of SiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) through the coordination with functionalizing amino silane groups. It behaves as a double-function material, acting at the same time as a rubber reinforcing filler and a curing activator. The higher availability and reactivity of the single-site Zn(II) centers toward curative agents impart faster kinetics and higher efficiency to the vulcanization process of silica/isoprene NCs, compared to conventionally used ZnO activators. Moreover, the NCs show a high cross-linking degree and improved dynamic mechanical properties, despite the remarkably lower amount of zinc employed than that normally used for rubber composites in tires. Finally, the structural stability of Zn(II) single sites during the curing reactions and in the final materials may represent a turning point toward the elimination of zinc leaching phenomena.

Design of a Zn Single-Site Curing Activator for a More Sustainable Sulfur Cross-Link Formation in Rubber / Mostoni, Silvia; D'Arienzo, Massimiliano; Di Credico, Barbara; Armelao, Lidia; Rancan, Marzio; Dirè, Sandra; Callone, Emanuela; Donetti, Raffaella; Susanna, Antonio; Scotti, Roberto. - In: INDUSTRIAL & ENGINEERING CHEMISTRY RESEARCH. - ISSN 0888-5885. - 60:28(2021), pp. 10180-10192. [10.1021/acs.iecr.1c01580]

Design of a Zn Single-Site Curing Activator for a More Sustainable Sulfur Cross-Link Formation in Rubber

Dirè, Sandra;Callone, Emanuela;
2021-01-01

Abstract

ZnO is a worldwide used activator for a rubber vulcanization process, which promotes fast curing kinetics and high cross-linking densities of rubber nanocomposites (NCs). However, its extended use together with leaching phenomena occurring during the production and life cycle of rubber products, especially tires, entails potential environmental risks, as ecotoxicity toward aquatic organisms. Pushed by this issue, a novel activator was developed, which introduces highly dispersed and active zinc species in the vulcanization process, reducing the amount of employed ZnO and keeping high the curing efficiency. The activator is constituted by Zn(II) single sites, anchored on the surface of SiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) through the coordination with functionalizing amino silane groups. It behaves as a double-function material, acting at the same time as a rubber reinforcing filler and a curing activator. The higher availability and reactivity of the single-site Zn(II) centers toward curative agents impart faster kinetics and higher efficiency to the vulcanization process of silica/isoprene NCs, compared to conventionally used ZnO activators. Moreover, the NCs show a high cross-linking degree and improved dynamic mechanical properties, despite the remarkably lower amount of zinc employed than that normally used for rubber composites in tires. Finally, the structural stability of Zn(II) single sites during the curing reactions and in the final materials may represent a turning point toward the elimination of zinc leaching phenomena.
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Mostoni, Silvia; D'Arienzo, Massimiliano; Di Credico, Barbara; Armelao, Lidia; Rancan, Marzio; Dirè, Sandra; Callone, Emanuela; Donetti, Raffaella; Susanna, Antonio; Scotti, Roberto
Design of a Zn Single-Site Curing Activator for a More Sustainable Sulfur Cross-Link Formation in Rubber / Mostoni, Silvia; D'Arienzo, Massimiliano; Di Credico, Barbara; Armelao, Lidia; Rancan, Marzio; Dirè, Sandra; Callone, Emanuela; Donetti, Raffaella; Susanna, Antonio; Scotti, Roberto. - In: INDUSTRIAL & ENGINEERING CHEMISTRY RESEARCH. - ISSN 0888-5885. - 60:28(2021), pp. 10180-10192. [10.1021/acs.iecr.1c01580]
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