Determining the structure of filler (carbon black and silica) by compression and volume measurement

Breaking the structure of rubber filler by sample compression and correlating the measuring signal to various conditions in the material process cycle, such that the structure can be determined continuously. Development of new test equipment.

Carbon black and silica are prime materials used mainly for rubber production (also called filler in this context) and other application fields. The structure is a physical property of filler material resulting from the macroscopic shape of the carbon and silica particle arrangement. It causes immobilisation of the polymer molecules in the void of the filler structure. As such, filler acts as a reinforcing material in polymer compounds. The filler powder materials are produced in reactors, pass through other manufacturing processes, shipment and handling and at the end are typically mixed into polymers. All of these phases make up the material's process cycle where it passes through different stages before obtaining its final structure in the finished product (e.g. tyre). The structure relates to the aggregate size. The free space between the particles, which in turn form the rigid aggregates, is available for polymer molecules that network in the vulcanised final product, resulting in the effect on its physical properties. The generally valid approach for quantifying structures is to determine this free volume per mass of material. The typical structure determination is based on liquid absorption and on detecting the saturation point of such liquid in the powder. The new industry approach is to try to generate a number equivalent to this method by determining the volume of a compressed sample of the powder. In general, all current methods determine 1 or 2 distinct points, each of which represents a specific status in the material's process cycle. The project will include research in order to understand the processes affecting the structure, particularly the effects of compressing such powder, and in the end to determine a correlation of compressing such powder to the various stages of the process cycle of these powders. If successful, the results may lead to a new test method offering a multipoint signal or even a continuous curve reflecting the full process cycle of the material. This will offer related industries (producers and users) numerous advantages in terms of extended process control, test speed, test convenience and environmental cleanliness. The main challenges in the project are: * Quantifying the structure at various stages, such that this quantification can be used as a clear and reliable reference for any other structure's 'measuring signal'. * Being able to generate a consistent (new) measuring signal such that it can be related to the reference quantification. * Determining a mathematical model to describe the correlation between the measuring signal and the quantified structure. In order to generate such (new) measuring signals, the following must be carried out: * Optimising an acting/sensing device to assure homogenous physical conditions. * Being able to generate and measure force from very low to very high. * Being able to determine exact volume. * Achieving appropriate measuring accuracy. Keywords: carbon black, silica, structure testing.
Project ID: 
3 597
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
1 320 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Analyses / Test Facilities and Methods
Market Area: 
Speciality/performance chemicals

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