KTN facilitates collaboration of firms embarking on a new R&D project to take old rubber tyres and turn them into useful materials using graphene.

Dr Sally Beken, Plastics and Elastomers lead at the KTN has supported three firms; Haydale, ARTIS and Trelleborg Antivibration Solutions in forming a collaboration on a new R&D project.

The companies have announced they are to embark on a two-year research and development project. This highly innovative project will investigate the use of Haydale’s patented plasma functionalisation for the enhancement of recovered carbon materials that are produced from the recycling of waste tyres so that these materials have the desired properties to enable them to be reused in engineering applications of rubber.

The project will also use plasma functionalised graphene, either alone or in combination with the newly developed recovered black materials as a hybrid system, to develop novel multifunctional elastomeric materials and products that can find a wide variety of applications across several different industry sectors.

This two-year project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK and has a total project budget in excess of £750,000.

Commenting, Dr Matthew Thornton, Senior Manager at Haydale, said: “We recognise the strength of our partners in this project to be able to take the solutions that will be developed to market on a global level. We believe our expertise in functionalisation will ensure that we can design and deliver the desired type and degree of functionality to recovered carbon black materials and that these, in combination with functionalised graphene and other nanomaterials, will subsequently find applications across the elastomer industry, primarily through the market sectors served by the partners in this project consortium”.

Martyn Bennett, Chief Scientist at ARTIS, part of Avon Rubber Plc, said: “We are very excited at this opportunity and have worked with the other partners in the past so that we are very familiar with their capabilities. We fully believe that this technology can enhance the opportunities for graphene and other nanomaterials and offers scope to grow our technology offerings to the recovered carbon industry through functionalisation and deliver this to the key players at the heart of the rCB (Recovered Carbon Black) industry”.

Bill Mortel, Head of Materials at Trelleborg Antivibration Solutions, commented “Trelleborg are keen to support this project to enable the use of recycled materials having good engineering properties. The use of plasma treatments and graphene additives within our formulations, with the goal of performance improvements, is of great interest to us for potential adoption as a production process.”

Dr Sally Beken added “As a rubber technologist by training¬†I’m really pleased to see that research into compounding graphene with elastomers is being supported by Innovate UK funding.¬† The KTN has supported all three partners of this collaborative project over a number of years in various ways. This is a great example of how KTN activities build communities, trust between individuals, and facilitate knowledge transfer which can lead to cutting edge research”.

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