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Effect of the blooming of chemical curatives on the cyclic fatigue life of natural rubber filled with a silanized silica nanofiller



When partly soluble chemical curatives are mixed with raw rubber, they migrate to the rubber surface, which can be detrimental to the rubber properties. Two rubber compounds with different amounts of curatives were prepared by mixing natural rubber with a high loading of precipitated amorphous white silica nanofiller. The silica surfaces were pretreated with bis(3-triethoxysilylpropyl)-tetrasulfide coupling agent to chemically adhere silica to the rubber. The chemical bonding between the filler and rubber was optimized via the tetrasulfane groups of bis(3-triethoxysilylpropyl)-tetrasulfide by adding accelerator and activator. The rubber compounds were cured and stored at ambient temperature for up to 65 days. One compound showed extensive blooming as a function of storage time. The cyclic fatigue life of the rubber vulcanizates was subsequently measured at a constant strain amplitude and test frequency at ambient temperature. The blooming of the chemical curatives reduced the cyclic fatigue life of the rubber vulcanizate by more than 100%. The migrated chemical curatives produced a thin layer approximately 15 μm in size beneath the rubber surface. When the rubber was stressed repeatedly in the fatigue test, cracks initiated in this layer and subsequently grew, causing the fatigue life of the vulcanizate to decrease. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011