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Thermo-mechanical devulcanization and recycling of rubber industry waste

Seghar, Saïd, Asaro, Lucia, Rolland-Monnet, Morena, Aït Hocine, Nourredine
Resources, conservation, and recycling 2019 v.144 pp. 180-186
cleavage (chemistry), energy, extrusion, industrial wastes, recycling, rubber, rubber industry, sulfur, temperature, viscosity
This work is focused on the recycling of natural rubber industry waste by means of thermo-mechanical devulcanization. With that aim, tests were carried out in an industrial twin-screw extruder, at different barrel temperatures, ranging from 80 to 220 °C. The extrusion was done with a screw profile specifically designed for the devulcanization process. The extent and quality of devulcanization were evaluated through the measurements of crosslink density, soluble fraction and Mooney viscosity, and by using the Horikx diagram. Results showed that a high degree of reclaiming (˜90%) was obtained, independently of the barrel temperature. The samples with the best devulcanization quality, i.e. the samples with a more selective sulfur bond scission, were found to be those treated at a lower input temperature. This was explained by the effect of the rubber homogenous self-heating which contributes to the local increase of the material temperature, during the devulcanization process. Moreover, it was found that the properties of the devulcanized rubber/virgin rubber blends were not significantly affected by the addition of the treated rubber. Results suggest that the entire natural rubber industry waste could be recycled into new competitive products, with low energy consumption. This would present a real contribution to the industrial recycling and thus a noticeable improvement of the environment.