The ground-breaking Terminator rubber that can heal itself

How frustrating is it when you’re driving along in your car and you suddenly get a puncture? It’s inconvenient at best and an absolute nightmare at worst, especially if you have no idea how to change your tyre!

Now, imagine getting a puncture and instead of getting on your hands and knees to swap the wheel, or wait for a roadside rescue, you simply smear on a special chemical that makes the rubber fuse back together – a bit like the Terminator in the movie franchise of the same name.

Well, that’s the type of breakthrough researchers at Australia’s Flinders University are reporting they’ve made. The best part of all is the material is made from waste materials and can be easily recycled.

In fact, the extremely versatile and sustainable new rubber comprises more than 50% sulphur, as well as some canola cooking oil and a chemical compound called Dicyclopentadiene (DCPD).

The rubber’s secret weapon is that it is a ‘latent adhesive’. In other words, all it needs is an amine catalyst and it can miraculously bond with itself, without losing any of its strength. What’s even more amazing is that the bonding occurs at room temperature and does not take more than a few minutes to become fused. This means that it could end up being used to repair all manner of rubber objects and when they come to the end of their useful life, they can simply be recycled.

Furthermore, the Terminator rubber is also resistant to water, salt and corrosion, making it potentially game-changing for marine applications. Combine it with 3D printing capabilities and the possibilities are, quite literally, endless.

You can find out more about the research breakthrough in the journal Chemical Science and the video below:



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