Rubber Blends: Genesis
Synthetic rubber allows use to use numerous inventions and modern technology - including, of course, car tyres.
We own this invention to Fritz Hofmann, who previously worked at Elberfelder Farbenfabriken Friedr Bayer & Co. This company has evolved over the years and is now known as LANXESS AG, a manufacturer of chemical substances.
In 1909 Hofmann went to the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin and patented his invention. He didn’t expect his invention to change the world: rather, his original intention was to manufacture a substance which could provide an effective alternative to natural rubber. This was caused by the rising prices of rubber tree extracts.
Before Hofmann’s invention of synthetic rubber, rubber could not be modified and lacked flexibility. This new synthetic substance changed all this and began a time of intensive advancement. The chemists Walter Bock and Eduard Tschunkur introduced styrene-based Buna S rubber, which is still in use today. The copolymerisation of butadiene and styrene turned out to be a good solution and it was awarded its own patent in 1929. The name Buna didn’t come out of thin air, either. It was derived from the first letters of the ingredients, such as butadiene.
Similarly, the invention of oil-resistant nitrile rubber, also known as Perbunan, proved to be as equally useful.
Synthetic rubber can be found in numerous aspects of modern technology.
The director for Technical Rubber Products at LANXESS claims that we can’t manufacture only one synthetic rubber anymore. He points out the multitude of tyre types and the resulting range of tyre construction processes, using numerous elastomers suited to a given tyre manufacturer’s specific needs.
On the topic of Hofmann’s original invention, Dr Werner Breuers - a member of the board dealing with special chemical substances at LANXESS - says: “Synthetic rubber made the world a mobile place. Without synthetic rubber materials none of the billions of cars worldwide would be able to drive and plans would not be able to take off. Synthetic rubber also allowed for lab testing in high temperatures that natural rubber would not withstand.”