On Monday, June 20th, 2016, Mrs. Akansha Rathi has successfully defended her PDEng thesis entitled 'Process-Design for Tire Tread Compounds with Good Compatibility to Mineral-based Safe Process Oils’.
The main goal of the current project is to develop a process-design for a rubber blend compound for Passenger Car Tire (PCT) treads, with an optimum compatibility to petroleum-based PNA-safe process oils like Treated Distillate Aromatic Extracts (TDAE) and Mildly Extracted Solvates (MES). The tread of a PCT is normally composed of blends of Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR), Butadiene Rubber (BR) and Natural Rubber (NR). Process oils are added to these blends to improve the processability and vulcanizate properties like elasticity and low temperature flexibility. Due to the differences in polarity, the solubility and compatibility of the process oil with each component in a blend can vary. The preference of the process oil for a particular phase can lead to problems with mixing and irregular distribution, which affects the final properties of the compound. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate how the oil is distributed within a blend compound. This thesis investigates the distribution of TDAE oil in a SBR/BR blend, as this combination is the most widely used in the tire industry for the PCT tread. The focus is on developing a process-design for a SBR/BR blend compound with: i) good compatibility to the TDAE oil and ii) improved tread performance.