The self-healing flat tire may arrive sooner than we expected. Researchers from Germany and Finland have devised a brand new type of rubber capable of healing itself after being punctured.
The discovery might be of utmost importance in the field of science, but more importantly, it would forever fix the problem of flat tires. Just picture this, not having to go to a mechanic at all, even after numerous flat tires.
The discovery of the material and its properties has been documented in the journal Applied Materials & Interfaces, of the American Chemical Society.
Rubber is a material that consists of elastic strands of molecules. The strands generally break when they are punctured. Manufacturers from all over the world usually add sulfur in the process of making rubbers in order to provide them with more durable and elastic properties. The process is more commonly known as vulcanization. However, once a sharp object like a piece of glass pierces the tire, the rubber cannot be patched.
Amit Das, the leader of the study, explained the process of making flat tire resistant rubbers. He said that the process does not even involve any type of vulcanization. Das reported “Here, we describe a simple approach to converting commercially available and widely used rubber into a highly elastic material with extraordinary self-healing properties without using conventional cross-linking or vulcanizing agents.”
After numerous tests, the team found that it is possible to make rubbers heal by themselves once they are cut. The trials were successful and took place at room temperature, which is good news, because that means tires would easily heal in real life as well.
Even more, the team found that the healing process will not affect the rubber’s quality, not even on the long run. The team of scientists have not stopped here though, they said they are currently working in strengthening the tires even more, possibly by adding filler agents such as carbon black.
Amit Das and his team declared that they were inspired by a French invention from 2008 – a rubber-like substance that was capable of stretching triple times its length and come back to original once it was let go. The breakthrough work belonged to a team of scientists in charge with Ludwik Leibler.
All in all, Das’ rubber material is much more stable and durable than what Leibler created years ago. According to many other scientists, the self-healing rubber material might open up new possibilities in the field of rubber technology, whether if it is for commercial or academic applications.
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