Speciality rubber products

Speciality rubber products

The growing significance of sustainability and green technology has been driving researchers to come up with environment friendly specialty products. The Malaysian Rubber Board has gone a long way in developing specialty rubber products that not only add value to NR but also offers a green alternative to product development. MRB’s Ekoprena and Pureprena have taken the drive towards sustainable development

Specialty rubbers are developed to enhance the qualities of natural rubber (NR) for manufacturing green products. The beneficiaries include both rubber industry and tyre industry. The significance of such products has increased dramatically as sustainability mandates are being strictly implimented across the globe.
The sustainability qualities of rubber have never been in doubt. Rubber takes a number of avtars to play its role as an ecofriendly substance. It is being used to pave roads and bridges. It can be used to create fibers for clothing and outerwear. Rubber has many uses and coming to terms with that makes rubber and recycled rubber products a valuable sustainable material. This turnaround story for a product such as rubber gives rise to the possibility that things once considered beyond redemption may now have a new life and a new purpose. In a sustainable world, technology research can turn a substance into an economically viable resource for the sustainable movement. This is where specialty rubber products gain its relevance.
Several research institutions and companies have been engaged in developing specialty rubbers, which offer much more than mere value addition. Even as a value enhancer, specialty products have a major role as the NR industry passing through very hard times.
The Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) has especially been engaged in research focused on developing specialty rubber products. Two such products – Ecoprena and Ecoprena1Pureprena – have already been globally promoted as game changers as far as green products development.
All research and development programmes of the rubber industry carried out by the MRB are to position the Malaysian rubber industry as a leader in technology and environmental conservation, the board says.
Ekoprena is a form of epoxidised natural rubber (ENR) and an established class of specialty rubber. It is a green material produced from a renewable natural source unlike synthetic rubbers.
There are two grades of Ekoprena produced commercially – koprena 25 and Ekoprena 50, containing 25 and 50 mole % epoxidation contents respectively. These two grades should cover the range of properties desirable for most of the expected applications for ENR. Stringent quality control measures are observed in the production of EKOPRENA. The product also can be custom made by customer’s request.
A current major demand of Ekoprena is from tyre manufacturers worldwide who require a ‘green’ material has advantageous properties in the manufacturing of environmentally-friendly tyres. With the increasing demand to reduce fuel consumption, it is apparent that Ekoprena will have a significant role to play as a green material in the future development of tyres.
Pureprena is a new generation of purified and deproteinised natural rubber which produced by treating fresh natural latex with an industrial enzyme which hydrolyses all naturally-occurring proteins in the latex into water-soluble forms. It contains about 96 per cent rubber hydrocarbons compared about 93 per cent for commercial Standard Malaysian Rubber (SMR) grades. The removal of these non-rubber components confers special attributes to the rubber which enhances its suitability for specialized rubber product applications.
Pureprena is an eco-efficient form of deproteinised natural rubber with distinguished raw rubber properties. This specialty rubber has very low nitrogen, ash and volatile matter contents as well as being light in colour.

TARRC-MRB alliance

The alliance between UK-based Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) and MRB in developing and promoting these specialty rubber products has provided the much needed momentum to rubber industry’s sustainability efforts. The recent workshop in Kuala Lumpur to promote specialty rubbers was a major step in presenting these products on a global platform.
It was the first ever major showcasing of rubber products manufacutred using Ekoprena and Pureprena. Tyres, retreads, shoe soles and an array of other rubber products were on display under the banner of major players like Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd, a major multicrop plantation conglomerate committed to promoting the two speciality rubbers.
Experts from TARRC and MRB were on hand to explain the features and advantages of Ekoprena and Pureprena. Both products have been produced through modification processes to enhance technical properties of NR while still maintaining the inherent advantages of properties of NR.
The aim of the workshop was was to providde an interactive platform for discussing all the technicial and commercial aspects and prospects of these two speciality rubbers towards a green future for global rubber industry. Over 300 participants turned up for the workshop.
Products like MRB’s two contributions will only increase in number in the coming days as NR researchers look into expand its range. Already experts are stressing the need to widen areas where rubber could be used as the major ingradient. As the industry seeks innovative ways to sustain itself in a fast changing economic environment, the role of spcialty rubber products will only increase.

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