What is Natural Rubber and Synthetic Rubber: Introduction
To differentiate between natural rubber and synthetic rubber: Natural rubber and synthetic rubber are two types of polymers widely used in various industries. Natural rubber is derived from the latex of certain plants, primarily the rubber tree. It is a polymeric material composed of repeating units of isoprene. Natural rubber exhibits excellent elasticity, resilience, and high tensile strength, making it suitable for applications such as tires, belts, and seals. On the other hand, synthetic rubber is artificially synthesized through chemical processes. It is a polymer produced from petroleum-based monomers. Synthetic rubber offers a wide range of properties and can be tailored for specific applications, including automotive parts, industrial goods, and consumer products. Let’s understand them further in more detail.
Last updated date: 26th Sep 2023
Total views: 1.8k
Views today: 0.01k
What is Natural Rubber?
Natural rubber is a polymer derived from the latex of certain plants, primarily the rubber tree. It is composed of repeating units of isoprene, a hydrocarbon molecule. Natural rubber exhibits exceptional elasticity, high tensile strength, and good resistance to abrasion and tearing. Due to its unique properties, it finds widespread use in various industries, particularly in the manufacturing of tires, belts, hoses, seals, and other products that require flexibility and durability. Natural rubber is also biodegradable and a renewable resource, making it an environmentally friendly choice compared to synthetic alternatives. The features of natural rubber are:
Polymer Structure: Natural rubber is a polymeric material composed of repeating units of isoprene, which gives it its unique properties.
Elasticity: Natural rubber exhibits exceptional elasticity, allowing it to stretch significantly and return to its original shape after deformation.
Tensile Strength: It has high tensile strength, making it resistant to tearing and able to withstand heavy loads and stress.
Resilience: Natural rubber possesses good resilience, meaning it can absorb and store energy upon deformation and release it when the force is removed.
Abrasion Resistance: It has good resistance to abrasion, making it suitable for applications where the material may come into contact with friction or wear.
Flexibility: Natural rubber is highly flexible and can be molded or shaped into various forms, making it versatile for different applications.
What is Synthetic Rubber?
Synthetic rubber refers to a class of polymers artificially synthesized from petroleum-based monomers through chemical processes. Unlike natural rubber, synthetic rubber is not derived from plants. It can be tailored to possess specific properties suitable for various applications. Synthetic rubber offers a wide range of characteristics, including high resilience, resistance to chemicals and abrasion, durability, and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures. Its versatility has made it a preferred choice in industries such as automotive, construction, electronics, and consumer goods, where specific performance requirements need to be met. The features of synthetic rubber are:
Customizability: Synthetic rubber can be engineered to exhibit specific properties and meet diverse application requirements by adjusting the chemical composition and polymerization process.
Chemical Resistance: It shows good resistance to chemicals, oils, and solvents, making it suitable for applications where exposure to these substances is expected.
Durability: Synthetic rubber is known for its high durability and long lifespan, making it ideal for demanding applications that require extended use and resistance to wear and tear.
Temperature Stability: It can withstand a wide range of temperatures, maintaining its performance even in extreme hot or cold conditions.
Weather Resistance: Synthetic rubber exhibits excellent resistance to weathering, including UV radiation, ozone, and other environmental factors, allowing it to maintain its integrity over time.
Versatility: Synthetic rubber can be formulated to possess a broad range of physical properties, including hardness, flexibility, and electrical conductivity, enabling its use in a wide variety of applications.
Differentiate Between Natural Rubber and Synthetic Rubber
Derived from the latex of rubber trees
Chemically synthesized from petroleum-based monomers
Repeating units of isoprene
Various polymers depending on the monomers used
High elasticity, resilience, and tensile strength
Tailored to specific properties and applications
Can be engineered for specific requirements
Good resistance to abrasion and tearing
Chemical and weather resistance
This table highlights general characteristics, there may be variations among specific types of natural and synthetic rubbers.
Natural rubber is a polymer that is derived from the latex sap of rubber trees, primarily found in tropical regions. It is a renewable resource and possesses excellent elasticity, resilience, and low-temperature flexibility. Synthetic rubber, on the other hand, is artificially produced through chemical processes. It is made from petroleum-based monomers, such as styrene and butadiene. Synthetic rubber can be engineered to possess specific properties, such as improved durability, chemical resistance, and heat resistance.
FAQs on Difference Between Natural Rubber and Synthetic Rubber
1. How is natural rubber obtained?
Natural rubber is obtained from the latex sap of rubber trees, primarily Hevea brasiliensis. The process of obtaining natural rubber involves several steps. Initially, an incision is made on the tree bark, allowing the latex to flow out. The latex is then collected in containers, typically cups or buckets, attached to the tree trunk. This collection process is typically done in the early morning when the latex flow is most abundant. After collection, the latex undergoes treatment with chemicals like formic acid to prevent coagulation. It is then further processed through centrifugation or coagulation with acid to separate the rubber solids, which are then molded and dried into usable natural rubber sheets or blocks.
2. Is natural rubber biodegradable?
Yes, natural rubber is biodegradable. Being derived from the latex sap of rubber trees, it is composed of organic materials and can break down naturally over time through the action of microorganisms. When exposed to environmental conditions such as heat, sunlight, and microbial activity, natural rubber undergoes biodegradation, ultimately returning to the environment in a form that can be assimilated by living organisms. This biodegradability is one of the environmentally friendly aspects of natural rubber compared to some synthetic rubber counterparts, which may have a slower or limited ability to biodegrade.
3. What are the advantages of synthetic rubber over natural rubber?
Synthetic rubber offers several advantages over natural rubber. First, it provides enhanced chemical resistance, making it suitable for applications where exposure to oils, solvents, and chemicals is prevalent. Synthetic rubber also exhibits better weather resistance, withstanding UV radiation, ozone, and extreme temperatures more effectively than natural rubber. Additionally, synthetic rubber allows for greater customizability, as its properties can be tailored to specific requirements, such as hardness, flexibility, and electrical conductivity. It also offers a wider range of options and availability compared to natural rubber. Lastly, synthetic rubber can be produced at a lower cost, making it more economically viable for certain applications.
4. Can natural rubber be recycled?
Yes, natural rubber can be recycled, although the process is more challenging compared to recycling synthetic rubber. One common method of recycling natural rubber is through mechanical grinding or shredding, where used rubber products are broken down into smaller pieces. These rubber particles can then be incorporated into new rubber products or mixed with other materials to create composite materials. Another approach is the devulcanization process, which involves breaking the cross-links within the rubber to restore its properties and allow for reuse. While recycling natural rubber is possible, it is not as widely practiced or efficient as the recycling of synthetic rubber due to the complexity of its composition and degradation during the recycling process.
5. How is a synthetic rubber produced?
Synthetic rubber is produced through a process called polymerization, where specific monomers are chemically combined to form polymers. The most common method of synthetic rubber production is emulsion polymerization, where monomers are mixed with water and emulsifiers to form a stable emulsion. Polymerization initiators are then added to trigger the reaction, causing the monomers to link together and form polymer chains. The resulting polymer is then coagulated, washed, and dried to obtain the synthetic rubber in the desired form. Different types of synthetic rubber, such as styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) or polybutadiene rubber (BR), can be produced by varying the monomers and polymerization conditions.