Functionalized SBRs in Silica-reinforced Tire Tread Compounds: Interactions with filler and Zinc Oxide

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Unlike carbon black, silica is polar and naturally not compatible with nonpolar hydrocarbon elastomers. This lack of interaction or compatibility between the filler and the elastomer typically causes lower properties compared with carbon black–filled compounds. A common approach to deal with this problem is to use silane coupling agents in the system to link the silica and the polymer chains via covalent bonds. An alternative is the introduction of polar functional groups or chemically reactive groups into the elastomer chains, which can improve the compatibility of elastomers with fillers such as silica. In this article, the effect of three functionalized SBRs, one backbone modified with carboxylate moieties, one modified with dithiol groups, and one partially Si-coupled, on the dynamic and mechanical properties of a silica-reinforced tire tread compound will be discussed and compared with a reference compound that contains unmodified s-SBR as the main polymer. The results show the significant potential of two of these modified SBRs to reduce the rolling resistance of tire treads made thereof, while no major change in wet grip occurs. Zinc oxide is known as the best activator for sulfur vulcanization. Zn ions combine with accelerators to form an active complex that catalyzes the vulcanization process. However, in silica-filled compounds, ZnO may interfere with the silanization process because of its alkaline nature, and it may compete with the silanes in reacting with the acidic –OH groups on the surface of silica particles. When functionalized SBRs with higher polarity are used in silica compounds, ZnO may interact with these moieties as well. To investigate the effect of ZnO on the properties of the silica-reinforced tread compound, a series of compounds have been prepared, in which the addition of ZnO in a later stage was compared with conventional mixing. The dynamic and mechanical properties of the final compounds are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-572
Number of pages14
JournalRubber chemistry and technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • IR-103085
  • METIS-321051


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