The substitution of petrochemical-based materials with renewable ones is an important step towards increasing sustainability. Materials derived from organic cellulose are promising candidates for this scope. These materials are renewable, abundant, and show a low environmental impact.
Successful development project by Datwyler and Empa
In the rubber industry, microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) received much attention given the high stiffness, fibrils morphology, low density and mechanical properties. It thus has a high potential to improve the properties of elastomer compounds.However, the successful use of such material in water repellent elastomers is challenging. Together with the development partner Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), Datwyler developed an industrial process for the surface modification of MFC to solve this challenge.
Patented process as basis for industrial implementation
First trials envisioned the substitution of aramid fibers with modified MFCs. The results show good compatibility between the MFC-filler and the elastomer matrix with strong reinforcing effect, even superior to those reached with conventional petroleum-based fibers. Based on these promising research results, Datwyler has patented the process and will work on its implementation for industrial mass production in the next phase. The development of these novel cellulose-based fillers will result in an important step towards increasing sustainability in elastomer products such as pump diaphragms.