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Anaerobic desulfurization of ground rubber with the thermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus--a new method for rubber recycling

Bredberg, K., Persson, J., Christiansson, M., Stenberg, B., Holst, O.
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2001 v.55 no.1 pp. 43-48
Pyrococcus furiosus, additives, mechanical properties, methodology, recycling, rubber, stress relaxation, sulfur, tires, toxicity
The anaerobic sulfur-reducing archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus was investigated regarding its capacity to desulfurize rubber material. The microorganism's sensitivity towards common rubber elastomers and additives was tested and several were shown to be toxic to P. furiosus. The microorganism was shown to utilize sulfur in vulcanized natural rubber and an increase in cell density was obtained when cultivated in the presence of spent tire rubber. Ethanol-leached cryo-ground tire rubber treated with P. furiosus for 10 days was vulcanized together with virgin rubber material (15% w/w) and the mechanical properties of the resulting material were determined. The increase in the stress at break value and the decrease in swell ratio and stress relaxation rate obtained for material containing microbially treated rubber (compared to untreated material) show the positive effects of microbial desulfurization on rubber.