A potential cost-cutting approach that allows ground rubber to be a filler in some polyurethane products has been developed by Urethane Technologies Inc., of Santa Ana, Calif. Funded by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, a study by Champion Recycling Inc. showed that ``finely ground rubber can be used successfully as a cost-effective filler'' in PU bicycle tires, industrial wheels, shoe outsoles and other products, according to John D. McNeill, UTI's director of technical services.
Champion turned the technical development and testing procedures over to UTI, which holds patents on a novel process to treat ground rubber and use it as a filler in molding PU products.
``We're now in the process of doing a market development program,'' McNeill said.
``The overall benefit to this approach is that you can lower raw material costs, it doesn't detract from physical properties and it will help clean up the environment.''
The study, called ``Advanced Technology Tire Recycling System for Improved, Cost-Effective Polyurethane Parts,'' was presented at the Polyurethanes '95 conference in Chicago.
McNeill said previous attempts to use ground rubber as a filler in high-performance PU systems had limited success.
``There were problems in getting the rubber to bond well with the polymer,'' he said.
UTI's new process takes a surface modification approach to treating the ground rubber.
The post-treated ground rubber, which UTI has trademarked under the name Stermic, ``produces greatly enhanced adhesion of the rubber particles to the polymer,'' said McNeill.
A new, non-ozone depleting blowing agent has yielded optimum performance for wear-resistant applications, McNeill said. The new agent, called Ariser, has a patent pending, he said.
According to McNeill Ariser's advantage over more traditional water-blown technology is its durability.
``These technologies have the potential to open sizable new markets for polyurethane systems,'' UTI's McNeill said.
``But we don't have the arms and legs to promote the technology yet.''