The Chemistry and Materials Exploratory Unit (CMEU) was set up in late 2006. The main function of this Unit is to conduct basic research on natural rubber including modification of rubber molecules to enable production of new materials. One of the most important objectives of natural rubber modification is to improve the weaknesses in the properties of natural rubber as against the synthetic polymers. These modified materials would add value to the natural rubber and would be expected to enhance the utilisation of natural rubbers in applications that have been dominated by the synthetic rubbers and their latices. It is important that new polymers and polymer latices be developed from renewable resources such as natural rubber. Crude oil is the main source of raw material for the production of synthetic polymers and its reserve is continuously depleting. Chemical modification of natural rubber may be able to address some of the issues mentioned above.
Research works on chemical modification of natural rubber began in earnest in the 1950s. As up to now only a few types of modified natural rubbers and latices have been successfully commercialised. The CMEU is embarking on several long term research projects on chemical modification of natural rubber. Chemical modification of rubber via latex is a versatile process where the modification work does not involve the use of rubber solvent or high energy requirement. The modified latex could be converted into dry rubber, latex concentrate or just as latex intermediates. Great emphasis will be given to work on field natural rubber latex as the starting material since such modification route would enhance the commercial viability of the materials produced. The Unit is working on development of modified NR latices with good film forming properties, that could make these latices suitable for manufacture of latex products. The development of oil/chemical resistance natural rubber for dry rubber and latex products applications has always been an important agenda of chemical modification of natural rubber. The CMEU will also intensify the development of modified natural rubber latices for water-based adhesives/binders applications. This is a sector where the precious natural rubber latex can be more efficiently utilised.
For further details:
Head of Chemistry & Materials Exploratory Unit
Tel: 03-6145 9475 ext 4513 DL: 603-6156 3298
Fax: 603-6141 3167