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Development of novel elastomeric blends containing natural rubber and ultra-low-density polyethylene



This study sought to develop novel elastomeric compounds using natural rubber (NR) and ultra-low-density polyethylene (ULDPE). Blends were prepared by means of a two-roll mill for three ratios (70/30, 60/40, and 50/50 NR/ULDPE). Conventional vulcanization was performed in a compression mold. The physical and mechanical properties of the blend were determined according to ASTM standards. The results were compared with those obtained from NR blended with styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR). The morphological examinations with scanning electron microscopy indicated that ULDPE was compatible with NR; thus, the addition of a compatibilizer was not necessary. The cocontinuous phase was dominant in the NR/ULDPE blend containing 50 and 60 wt % NR. The tensile properties, tear resistance, and aging resistance of the NR/ULDPE blends were found to be superior to those of NR/SBR blends. On the other hand, the abrasion and flex cracking resistances of the NR/ULDPE blend were inferior to those exhibited by SBR blends but the Mooney viscosity and resilience of both blends fell in the same range. However, the addition of dicumyl peroxide appeared to have caused crosslinking of the ULDPE phase in the blend, which in turn increased the tensile properties and abrasion and aging resistance. The properties of the tertiary NR/SBR/ULDPE blend were investigated as well. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 82: 650–660, 2001