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Microwave treatment of vulcanized rubber (1)

time£º2008-09-01 01:42:15  View:        

Abstract:  A process and resulting product is provided in which a vulcanized solid particulate, such as vulcanized crumb rubber, has select chemical bonds broken by microwave radiation. The direct application of microwaves in combination with uniform heating of the crumb rubber renders the treated crumb rubber more suitable for use in new rubber formulations. As a result, larger particle sizes and/or loading levels of the treated crumb rubber can be used in new rubber mixtures to produce recycled composite products with good properties.

That which is claimed is:

1. A process for devulcanizing a rubber particulate comprising: providing a supply of a crumb rubber; exposing the crumb rubber to microwave radiation; raising thetemperature of the crumb rubber to between about 350.degree. C. and about 400.degree. C.; and, altering compounds within the crumb rubber by the breakage of targeted bonds; thereby, providing a crumb rubber having altered chemical and physicalproperties for incorporation into a virgin rubber mix.

2. The process according to claim 1 wherein the microwave frequency is 2450 MHZ.

3. The process according to claim 1 wherein the step of heating further comprises heating a susceptor material in proximity to the said crumb rubber.

4. A process for treating used rubber to render it suitable for use at high loading levels in a new rubber composition comprising: treating the used rubber with microwave energy for a sufficient period of time to achieve predetermined reactivityproperties when compounded into new rubber products.

5. The process according to claim 1 wherein the step of exposing the crumb rubber further comprises providing an atmosphere of inert gas.

6. The process according to claim 1 wherein said step of providing a supply of crumb rubber further comprises supplying crumb rubber having an average mesh size of at least 40.

7. A tire tread compound comprising: a base polymer of natural or synthetic rubber; a reinforcing filler comprising to about 30% by weight of a previously vulcanized particulate rubber, the particulate rubber having an exterior surface which issubstantially devulcanized by exposure to a combination of microwave energy and radiant energy; and, a filler selected from the group of carbon black, silica, and combinations thereof.

8. A method of preparing a tire tread rubber composition comprising the sequential steps of: blending a rubber selected from the group consisting of cis-1,4-polyisoprene (natural or synthetic), cis-1,4-polybutadiene, 3,4-polyisoprene,styrene/butadiene copolymers, styrene/isoprene/butadiene terpolymers, butadiene/acrylonitrile copolymers, isoprene/acrylonitrile copolymers, and mixtures thereof, said rubber further containing a filler selected from the group of carbon black, silica,and combinations thereof; and, blending in a plurality of rubber particulates, each particulate having a sulfur curable exterior surface produced by exposure to a combination of microwave energy and radiant energy, to form a rubber composition having aparticulate concentration of at least about 20% by weight of said tire tread composition.

9. A cured molded article comprising: about 10 to 50% by weight of a recycled crumb rubber particulate, said crumb rubber particulate having a modified outer particulate surface, the exterior surface produced by exposure to a combination ofmicrowave energy and radiant energy; about 10% to 90% by weight of a natural or synthetic rubber; about 0% to 50% by weight of a non-reinforcing filler.

10. The molded article according to claim 9, wherein said crumb rubber particulate has an average size of at least about 80 mesh.

11. The molded article according to claim 9 wherein said crumb rubber particulate has an average size of at least about 40 mesh.

12. A process of combining particulate rubber with new rubber, comprising the steps of: providing a plurality of particles of a vulcanized crumb rubber, the particles having an average particle size of between about 200 mesh to about 40 mesh; oxidizing sulfur-containing vulcanization products on the surface of the crumb rubber particles with a combination of microwave radiation and radiant heat, the interior of the crumb rubber particles retaining desirable mechanical properties; combiningthe surface oxidized particles with new rubber and forming chemical bonds between the new rubber and the surface of the oxidized rubber particles.

13. A reinforcing filler for use in tire polymer formulations comprising: a tire rubber particle having an average size of about 200-40 mesh, the rubber particle having a sulfur curable exterior and a substantially vulcanized interior; whereinwhen the rubber particle is blended with a tire polymer, the surface of the rubber particle forms cross-link bonds with the tire polymer.

  
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