The development of the rubber industry is closely related to the use of nanomaterials. Rubber materials in the 21st century are developing towards high performance and functionalization. Usually, the composite obtained by adding nano powder into the rubber matrix is nano-rubber. The application direction of nano-materials in rubber can be summarized as two aspects: improving mechanical properties and providing some special functions (such as anti-aging, gas barrier and antibacterial).
The common nano powders used for rubber reinforcement and more special functions are mainly oxides nanoparticles, including zinc oxide nanoparticles, alumina nanoparticles, titanium dioxide nanoparticles and silica nanoparticles. Also there are other nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes, silicon nitride nanoparticles, nano graphene, nano diamond, etc.
- The reinforcing effect of nanomaterials on rubber
The most used and most common reinforcing agent is nano sized silica (SiO2 nanoparticles). The application results of SiO2 in tire production are more reflected in the substantial improvement of the basic performance of tires.
Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) can greatly improve the mechanical properties of composite materials due to their ultra-high strength, great toughness, and unique electrical and thermal conductivity. It is much better than carbon black in terms of wear and abrasion performance, which is beneficial to the development of low-rolling tire tread compounds.
- Nanomaterials can improve the vulcanization activity of rubber
Zinc oxide (ZnO) is an essential additive in the rubber and tire industries, and can be used as a vulcanization activator and reinforcing agent for natural rubber, synthetic rubber and latex, as well as a colorant. When nano zinc oxide is used as a vulcanization activator, compared with ordinary zinc oxide, the dosage can be greatly reduced. In the formulation of rubber shoes, active nano zinc oxide is an excellent inorganic active agent and vulcanization accelerator, which can significantly improve the performance of rubber shoes and prolong its service life. In addition, it can also be used as a sterilant, which can effectively inhibit the reproduction of bacteria. It is also a good UV shielding agent and anti-aging.
- Nanomaterials can improve the heat resistance of rubber
Nano silicon nitride (Si3N4) is a gray-white high-melting-point crystalline powder, which is a covalent bond compound, and the combination is very stable. It has high chemical stability, high temperature resistance and good wear resistance. Evenly dispersing it into the rubber matrix can significantly improve the service life of heat-resistant rubber products under dynamic conditions.
- Nanomaterials can be used to produce special thermally conductive tires
Graphene conductive tires can not only meet the high performance requirements of ordinary cars, but also can be widely used in inflammable and explosive goods transport vehicles, special vehicles for electronic equipment, special vehicles for military and police, etc.