Polymers / Composites / Fibres

Bio-Additives for Rubber Composites

BioPowder.com provides innovative, bio-based and fully sustainable fillers for rubber, rubber composites and biodegradable rubber. Versatile micro-powders can enhance the performance parameters of tyres, shoe soles, hoses and other rubber items while boosting their recyclability. Countless bio-additives have been tested on the market: from corn starch over flax, hemp up to bagasse. All of them come with fair properties, however, the BioPowder.com team has developed an enhanced alternative – both in technical and environmental terms.

Synthetic Rubber as a Major Source of Microplastics

Traditionally, synthetic granules, mainly from recycled rubber, have been used for compounding. On one hand, this has helped reduce rubber waste, whereas on the other hand it has not solved the problematic of microplastics. By far the largest amounts of microplastic, i.e. microscopic particles of non-biodegradable polymers, originate from the abrasion of tyres. In other words, every vehicle causes environmental damage simply by its contact with the road surface. To a minor extent, the same is true for shoe soles made of synthetic rubber. Humans walking down the road leave microscopic particles on the asphalt. Ultimately, this generates thousands of tons of microplastic that end up in the waters and in our food chain.

Sustainable Fillers for Biodegradable Rubber and Rubber Composites

At BioPowder.com we help manufacturers of rubber composites and biodegradable rubber replace synthetic and harmful additives by providing effective, bio-based alternatives. Our micronized powders, mainly made from olive stones, are fillers, ultra-resistant fibres and texturizers for any solid rubber composite. More precisely, we recommend our functional powders for the following uses:

  • as fillers for rubber and additives used in rubber compounding: to increase hardness and resistance, especially in solid tyre formulations. Our powders are 2-3 times harder than most other plant-based fibres (3.5 on a Mohs scale) and withstand temperatures up to 200°C. In natural or biodegradable rubber formulations, olive stone powders transform semi-liquid caoutchouc into a sturdy solid. In synthetic rubber composite formulations, the same favourable effects can be achieved by replacing conventional rubber additives such as carbon black or silica.
  • as crosslinking agents: especially suitable for elastomer formulations with a relatively low elasticity. Thanks to their reactivity, BioPowder.com powders can enhance molecular bonds and consequently improve elasticity and strength of many rubber compounds.
  • as reinforcing fibres: most tyre formulations are reinforced elastomers, i.e. rubber composites consisting of a polymer and a reinforcing agent or fibre. Using natural reinforcing fibres offers enormous potential for environmental innovation. Especially tyre treads can benefit from our fillers for rubber to enhance their resilience and abrasion/wear resistance.
  • as texturizers for rubber compounds: our additives used in rubber compounding come in micron ranges tailored to your specific requirements. Fine powders are ideal for dispersion whereas medium and large grain size ranges add a visible, granular texture. Surface modelling, for example for anti-slip effects in rubber composites, is made easy.

BioPowder.com functional fillers for rubber can fulfil two or more of the above functions at the same time. Different micron size ranges, ways of integration in the rubber matrix and doses can create a variety of effects, resulting in a compound with optimized parameters for many applications. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Rubber Additives and Biodegradable Rubber

1. How long does rubber take to biodegrade?

Natural rubber degrades in a microbially rich, moist soil over the period of 1-2 years. Recent studies have shown that only around 35% of all rubber products consist of natural rubber. The larger part of rubber components is in fact made of synthetic rubber or so-called rubber composite materials. Those synthetically manufactured compounds are not biodegradable rubber and require chemical recycling. BioPowder.com aims at facilitating this process by providing fully natural rubber additives made from renewable side stream resources.

2. Which component is added to rubber to improve its quality?

The chemical industry provides thousands of additives used in rubber compounding. When developing a rubber compound, the choice of additives depends on the desired mechanical properties as well as on environmental and financial considerations. Most rubber composite materials are designed to ensure high levels of tensile and impact strength as well as stability and thermal resistance. In biodegradable rubber, natural fibres and micronized powders are often added as reinforcing fibres and texturizers. The high particle hardness of BioPowder.com rubber additives can in addition boost strength and abrasion resistance. Also, textured surface effects can be created when the rubber composite is enriched with natural powders of a larger grain size.

3. Why are fillers used in rubber compounding?

Mainly for reasons of texture, mechanical properties and bio-based nature as explained in question 2. There is also a financial aspect: fillers for rubber can help reduce the overall cost of the rubber composite by simply adding mass. In recent times, however, the industry has moved away from synthetic, inert fillers towards more functional and biodegradable fillers for rubber compounds. Our line of fine powders caters to innovative rubber additives suppliers wishing to achieve a maximum of properties with mostly natural functional fillers for rubber.

4. Is there a way to make rubber biodegradable?

Apart from using natural rubber as a basis, we recommend to choose fillers for rubber that are biodegradable or even compostable. To facilitate the development of high-performance rubber composite solutions, BioPowder.com has developed functional powders with multiple benefits such as reinforcement, texture, light weight, flexible particle diameter and - if needed - coated or hydrophobic surface properties. 

5. Are BioPowder.com fillers for rubber subject to regulatory approval?

All our rubber additives are 100% plant-based and made from renewable resources, i.e. olive oil by products. Hence, they qualify as agricultural raw materials in contrast to chemicals, for which regulatory frameworks (such as Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 (REACH)) apply.

6. How do you ensure compatibility of your rubber additives with a specific rubber composite?

Apart from our fully natural, untreated powders, we offer a wide range of surface-treated additives used in rubber compounding. This includes silane- or polymer-treated powders, which were designed to maximize compatibility, i.e. smooth incorporation into the rubber composite systems. Especially in vulcanized rubber, there are often high requirments with regard to biodegradable rubber fillers. Our approach with R&D professionals is therefore a collaborative one. We are also open to modifying our particles on-demand with client-specific rubber additives.

7. What are the smallest particle sizes of your biodegradable rubber additives?

Our goal is to facilitate easy incorporation of our functional fillers in a variety of rubber composite systems. Therefore, we have developed methods to reach grain sizes as small as <50, <25 or even <10 micrometers (microns).  Our modern micronization techniques also allow as to manufacture bespoke grain size ranges and made-to-measure particle distribution curves. On the other side of the spectrum, certain rubber composites require large texture particles, for example to create ant-slip surfaces or textured coatings. For those applications, we provide coarser particles, which also contribute to making rubber biodegradable.  

8. What are typical batch sizes of BioPowder.com biodegradable rubber additives?

As an industrial manufacturer, we supply exclusively to commercial customers. Our standard packaging unit are 25kg bags, and we can flexibly provide any quantity ranging from just a single bag up to hundreds of tons. All our rubber additives are available all year round. Sample can be provided for initial lab testing, product optimization or industrial trials.   

9. Which locations are your biodegradable rubber additives available at?

Thanks to our long-standing logistics network, we supply our rubber additives worldwide, without the need for local distributors. In addition, we have established collaboration agreements with rubber additives suppliers around the globe who can offer even more personalized service to local customers. 

If you are a manufacturer or developer of rubber compounds, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can advise you on the best additive to create sustainable high-performance rubber compounds and/or biodegradable rubber. 

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