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Elastomers self-repair at room temperature without catalyst or stimulus

Fundacion Cidetec (IK4-CIDETEC) : 17 November, 2013  (Technical Article)
IK4-CIDETEC has developed a polymer capable of self-repair at room temperature without the need for any sort of catalyst or external stimulus. After subjecting the material to a cut, it is able to regenerate in just two hours, fully recovering its mechanical properties.
Elastomers self-repair at room temperature without catalyst or stimulus
The study has been carried in the framework of the European project SHINE (Self-Healing Innovative Elastomers for dynamic seals, damping and noise reduction). The first progress report meeting was held on 15 October at IK4-CIDETEC, six months after the beginning of the project. Members of the consortium presented results, discussed progress and reviewed the tasks to be undertaken during next six months.
With a EUR 4 million budget and a duration of three years (2013-2016), the project consortium consists of seven research centres and five companies from eight European countries. Among others, the company Arkema France SA and Acciona Infrastructures SA and the centres IK4-CIDETEC, Fraunhofer, and Dutch Polymer Institute, the latter as coordinator. The project aims to develop thermoset elastomers with self-repairing capabilities.
Thermosetting elastomers are the base material for manufacturing of flexible connectors used in multiple applications (sealing joints, joints between different materials, vibration dampers). During their working life, these materials are subject to fatigue, impact, abrasion, corrosion, wear - phenomena which lead to the formation of small fractures that may ultimately lead to the failure of the piece. This may be critical when the elastomeric material is part of a machine, a bridge, a railway or a road. As a result, many of these materials have a limited life and need to be frequently replaced. This results in high maintenance costs, loss of efficiency as well as a significant generation of waste because current thermoset elastomers are, by definition, non recyclable.
The advantages of implementing the concept of self-repair in these materials are clear: safer machines and vehicles thanks to more reliable components used in pumps, engines and gearboxes; more effective impact protection systems; longer lasting noise dampening and vibration systems in railways; asphalts which require less maintenance.
A Rekondo, R Martin, A Ruiz de Luzuriaga,
G Cabanero, H J Grande and I Odriozola
Catalyst-free room-temperature self-healing
elastomers based on aromatic disulfide metathesis 
Mater. Horiz., 2014 DOI: 10.1039/C3MH00061c
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