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Effects of cashew nut shell liquid as a plasticizer on cure characteristics, processability, and mechanical properties of 50 : 50 NR/EPDM blends: A comparison with paraffin oil



50 : 50 natural rubber (NR) and ethylene–propylene–diene monomer rubber (EPDM) blends were prepared with different contents of cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL), a natural product obtained from the shells of the cashew nut, as a plasticizer. For comparison, a commercial paraffin oil plasticizer was also used. The effect of plasticizer content on the cure characteristics, processability, and mechanical properties such as tensile strength, elongation at break, and Young's modulus before and after ageing was investigated. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to observe the blend morphology. The results indicated that the CNSL plasticizer resulted in lower Mooney viscosity and lower cure time of the 50 : 50 NR/EPDM blends. The incorporation of CNSL into 50 : 50 NR/EPDM blends improved tensile strength and elongation at break but decreased Young's modulus. On addition of CNSL the resistance of the blends to heat and weathering ageing improved. Scanning electron micrographs revealed that the morphology of the blend plasticized with CNSL is finer and more homogeneous compared with the blend plasticized with paraffin oil. Overall results indicate that CNSL can be used as a cheaper plasticizer to replace paraffin oil in NR/EPDM blends with improved processability and mechanical properties. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 2007