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Exploring a highly dispersible silica–elastomer composite for tire applications

ABSTRACT

In this article, we provide an extensive analyses of various properties that are required for tire tread based on developed highly dispersible (HD) silica‐filled epoxidized natural rubber composites. Silica in an HD form has become a staple filler in tire tread applications because of its inherent advantages. In this study, epoxidized natural rubber with 25 mol % epoxide (ENR 25) and natural rubber were mixed with two different types of HD silica for superior reinforcement. A standard tire tread formulation was used as the base compound. The magic triangle properties were conspicuously influenced by the viscoelastic characteristics of the vulcanizates. The introduction of polar rubber (ENR 25) into the HD silica greatly improved rheological, physicomechanical, bound rubber content, and dynamic mechanical properties, and this led to a better, fuel‐efficient tire. We successfully achieved this, even in the absence of a silane coupling agent. ENR 25 played an imperative role in showing an extraordinary rubber–filler interactions and was primarily responsible for these observations. In this study, we explored the HD silica dispersion with transmission electron microscopy observations. Morphological studies revealed well‐dispersed HD silica with the formation of a rubber–filler network. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2016, 133, 43531.