Role of zinc oxide in sulfur crosslinking

Gina Butuc, Arne Janssen, Kees van Leerdam, Auke Talma, Anke Blume

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

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Sulfur crosslinking was discovered by Charles Goodyear and Thomas Hancock
more than 150 years ago and led to the development of a new material
science application—rubber. Since the first discovery of ways of vulcanizing
rubber for improved dimensional stability, mechanical properties and chemical
resistance, sulfur continued to be analyzed to elucidate its role in the crosslinking process. Although the discovery of sulfur crosslinking was in itself a game changer, it was determined that vulcanization was too slow for commercial purposes and as such methods to expedite the crosslinking reaction were studied. Zinc oxide in combination with stearic acid were discovered as the best ways for improved sulfur reactivity in the vulcanization process. Zinc ions combine with stearic acid and cyclic tetrasulfide (acting as a sulfur accelerator) to form an active complex which catalyzes the vulcanization process.
Because the mechanism of reaction is complex, analyzing the structure at the
nano level could yield an insight into the process. This paper is focusing on
transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) for an in-depth analysis of the process, with an emphasis on ZnO crystallography/surface chemistry and its influence on sulfur crosslink process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-19
Number of pages4
JournalRubber & plastics news
Issue numberFebruary 10
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020


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