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AKRON, OHIO — Temarex Corp. is looking for partners to sign worldwide licensing agreements for a newly patented thermoplastic elastomer production process.

Developed by H. James Harwood and Steven W. Jolly at the University of Akron, the process improves the chemical and oxidative stability of hydrogenated polymers, according to Akron-based Temarex.

Temarex, since 1990, has helped the University of Akron find licensing partners for 37 of more than 100 patented or patent-pending technologies.

The process provides a method of producing TPEs with increased softening points, improved chemical resistance, and thermal and chemical stability, said Temarex Director Dennis J. Dannemiller.

The University of Akron began preliminary work on the TPE production process in 1993.

Now Temarex and the university are looking for partners to capitalize on the technology, Dannemiller said.

The firm is offering exclusive worldwide licensing agreements for the technology.

``In theory, we could have several licensing partners,'' Dannemiller said. ``We'd segment the market — and agreements — by raw material [TPE].

``We're willing to grant rights to sublicense the technology to others in geographical areas where our partners aren't that strong.''

Usually, the agreements last for the life of the patent, and that can last as many as 20 years, he said.

Temarex will negotiate a royalty based on net sales, with a payout typically less then 3 percent because these TPEs often involve high volumes.

The royalty will depend on material — some TPEs are more price-sensitive than others — and volume, he said.

The new technology is best-suited for TPE sterilizable medical devices, seals, gaskets, shoe soles, adhesives and wire coatings.

Current hydrogenation of unsaturated units in polymers used to make these products leaves as much as 1 percent residual unsaturation. This residual unsaturation adversely affects properties and creates difficulties when attempts are made to modify TPEs by nitration or arylsulfonylation.

This invention uses a post-hydrogenation process to remove or significantly lower the amount of residual unsaturation in hydrogenated polymers and copolymers.

The technology is applicable to hydrogenated polymers derived from butadiene; chloroprene; cyclic polyolefins; hydrogenated products formed by acyclic diene metathesis polymerization; hydrogenated copolymers; and terpolymers of vinyl monomers, including acrylates and methacrylates.

Copolymers that contain at least one hydrogenated diene or have statistical, alternating, block, graft, star or radial block architectures also can benefit.