Microwave-induced devulcanization for poly(ethylene–propylene–diene) recycling



The production of high quantities of end-of-life rubbers is an environmental problem of growing importance. Because of their crosslinked nature, such rubbers cannot be easily reprocessed, and actually, they are mainly wasted or reused after a simple mechanical grinding. In this study, a microwave (MW)-induced thermal treatment at temperatures above 300°C was proposed to obtain partial devulcanization of a poly(ethylene–propylene–diene) (EPDM) rubber filled with carbon black. The use of MWs showed to be a very fast and simple technique, which allowed the production of a treated rubber with a relatively low degree of crosslinking, a slight revulcanization ability, and suitability for reuse in conjunction with virgin rubber. Preliminary mechanical characterization, performed on the revulcanized samples, indicated that the virgin and treated rubber were able to establish a good interface adhesion, which led to performances better than those of similar materials where the recycled part was made of ground untreated EPDM. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011