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2015-06-29

LANXESS at the International Rubber Conference 2015

Innovative solutions for the entire rubber industry

Focus on sustainability and improved cost-effectiveness

Specialty chemicals company LANXESS is exhibiting at the International Rubber Conference (IRC) in Nuremberg as an important partner in an industry that is under constant pressure for new innovations. At a shared stand (No. 304 in Hall 12) experts from the Tire & Specialty Rubbers and High Performance Elastomers business units together with additives specialists from the Rhein Chemie Additives and Advanced Industrial Intermediates business units present the current challenges and the solutions LANXESS has developed to their customers. In addition, the teams will also play a key role in the presentation program, with in-depth contributions on current developments in the rubber sector. These will focus both on news from the LANXESS materials laboratories and on practical recommendations on subjects such as rubber compounding and improving sustainability.

“The European rubber industry is currently undergoing major changes. Developments such as globalization, new challenges brought about by the expansion into related technical fields, and the growing importance of sustainability topics for an increasingly wide circle of customers can bring huge opportunities for innovative suppliers – but also require the industry to continually adapt products to market requirements,” explains Jan Paul de Vries, head of the LANXESS High Performance Elastomers business unit. “For instance, increasing cost-effective production requires special-purpose rubbers that have been specifically optimized for current production processes. Anyone wanting to maintain their reputation as a successful supplier of high-end products in the future has to consider issues such as the temperature resistance of the rubbers in their portfolio. What’s more, the growing significance of environmental protection makes “green” compounds increasingly appealing in the eyes of many customers. Success therefore clearly depends on accelerating innovation processes. And LANXESS has a range of solutions to offer here.”

Innovative rubber opens up new opportunities

Examples of exciting materials from the LANXESS rubber technical center with which the Cologne-based specialist is responding to the latest developments include Keltan 9565Q, Levapren PXL and new, high-performance polybutadiene and SSBR grades. One rubber in the new Buna FX product group developed by the Tire & Specialty Rubbers business unit is a functionalized SSBR grade that improves polymer/filler interaction in the tread mix and thus reduces the rolling resistance of tires while also increasing grip. Another rubber grade in the Buna VSL portfolio makes it possible to significantly reduce tread wear without compromising on other important properties.

Keltan 9565Q is an ultra-high-molecular EPDM grade that, thanks to its high molecular weight, can provide rubber products subject to high dynamic stress with properties that were previously only possible when using natural rubber compounds. Its tan delta values, tensile strength and elongation at break make Keltan 9565Q an excellent alternative to natural rubber. The new Keltan grade from LANXESS performs much better than unsaturated natural rubber in terms of resistance to oxygen, ozone, weathering and heat. As a result, Keltan 9565Q can contribute to increasing maintenance intervals and improving machinery performance.

Levapren PXL is a pre-crosslinked EVM rubber with a Mooney viscosity that advanced reactive extrusion processes at LANXESS have brought up to the exceptionally high standard that technicians often need. The crosslinking density in the free-flowing rubber granules is much more homogeneous than is possible using the radiation pre-crosslinking methods used until now. This allows mixing times during processing to be substantially reduced, even when requirements on the surface quality of the products are particularly high, as is the case for cable sheathings, for instance. “Levapren PXL is perfect for the continuous mixing processes that are becoming increasingly important in the rubber industry because of their cost-effectiveness,” says de Vries.

Constant focus on sustainability

The opportunities that Keltan products from LANXESS open up for customers are also the focus of a presentation on “Green EPDM compounds”. Rubber of course often accounts for only a small fraction of the compounds used in many rubber-based products. LANXESS specialists have conducted a thorough study of the additives and fillers that can be used to make Keltan Eco rubber products even more sustainable. Positive results have been achieved by using vegetable oils and natural hydrocarbons such as squalene in compounds made from “green” EPDM rubber from LANXESS, for which the ethylene component is derived from renewable sugarcane crops. It is important for the polarity to be right and for unsaturated content to be taken into account in vulcanization. Soot from burning waste tires can also be effective here – using it is sustainable because it reduces waste and the tires also contain natural rubber. The LANXESS specialists are also exhibiting a Keltan Eco seal for use in automobiles that is made up of 90 percent sustainable components and delivers properties largely similar to those of conventional EPDM products – including high aging resistance up to 125 °C.

An even broader perspective on the topic of sustainability and rubber will be provided in a LANXESS presentation on “Sustainability and high quality in the rubber industry – a global approach”. Here it is argued that sustainability should not just be seen as a term for producing eco-friendly products – the benefits derived throughout their entire life cycles should be evaluated and consumption of energy and resources during production should also be analyzed critically. Positive examples of this approach include the lower levels of water and gas consumed in the production of the new “Green Finishing” Baypren grades (chloroprene rubber) and the reduced fuel consumption achieved by using Therban (HNBR) toothed belts for valve trains in combustion engines. The challenges that arise when finding a balance between lightweight design and comfort requirements when developing materials for tires will be analyzed in a separate presentation.

Not just rubber – compounding remains an important topic

The compounding specialists from the Rhein Chemie Additives business unit at LANXESS will be presenting ethylene thiourea-free (ETU-free) crosslinking systems for a range of rubber grades. Given the toxic properties of ETU, there is a high level of global interest in this topic. One of the many examples is a crosslinking system using MTT-80 and Rhenogran HPCA-50 for chloroprene rubber, which not only replaces ETU but can also contribute to increased aging resistance – especially in combination with new Baypren grades.

“Another development we would like to draw specialist attention to in Nuremberg is our Rhenowave in-line quality control system for the production of rubber compounds,” says Philipp Junge, head of the Business Line Rubber Additives at Rhein Chemie Additives. This highly innovative process uses ultrasonic pulses to monitor key properties of the rubber compound – especially homogeneity – during the extrusion stage. Rhenowave thus helps reduce both rejection rates and production costs. The Rhein Chemie Additives business unit at LANXESS itself is currently implementing Rhenowave in its own production of bladders. The extensive Rhein Chemie Additives portfolio of high-performance sulfur crosslinking systems and anti-reversion agents will also be presented and the many practical applications discussed.

“In 2015, the LANXESS synthetic rubber pioneers are once again perfectly positioned to provide the industry with key impetus and help our creative partners on the global market become even more competitive,” says de Vries. “The materials and expertise on sustainable products that we deliver not only ensure a reduced carbon footprint – they also make for faster, more cost-effective production processes. Rubber will certainly remain a key material in the decades ahead, but the challenges are already increasing – and LANXESS is equipped to address them!”

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LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.0 billion in 2014 and about 16,300 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainability indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI World and DJSI Europe) and FTSE4Good.

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