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Question 15

Discuss the main purpose of vulcanisation of rubber.

Answer

Natural rubber though useful has some problems associated with its use. These limitations are discussed below:

1. Natural rubber is quite soft and sticky at room temperature. At elevated temperatures (> 335 K), it becomes even softer. At low temperatures (< 283 K), it becomes brittle. Thus, to maintain its elasticity, natural rubber is generally used in the temperature range of 283 K-335 K.



2. It has the capacity to absorb large amounts of water.

3. It has low tensile strength and low resistance to abrasion.

4. It is soluble in non-polar solvents.

5. It is easily attacked by oxidizing agents.

Vulcanization of natural rubber is done to improve upon all these properties. In this process, a mixture of raw rubber with sulphur and appropriate additive is heated at a temperature range between 373 K and 415 K.

This is a slow process,therefore some additives like zinc oxide etc are used to accelerate the proess. During this process, sulphur cross links are formed which makes rubber hard, tough with greater tensile strength .The vulcanized rubber has excellent elasticity,low water absorption,resistance to oxidation & organic solvents.

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