High-performance rubber compounds require good dispersion of polymers, fillers, and other additives. However, fine powdery additives such as zinc oxide and insoluble sulfur (IS) are characteristically difficult to disperse, and poor dispersion may lead to large crosslink and modulus gradients in the final vulcanizate. IS dispersion can be assessed directly or indirectly, yet many techniques suffer from a lack of sensitivity and accuracy or are cost prohibitive. Herein, we describe the application of a two-parameter Weibull distribution and population survival analysis of cured rubber tensile strength as a simple technique to evaluate IS dispersion. We use statistical tools to determine the optimum number of sample replicates required to differentiate the quality of dispersion in rubber articles through the Weibull scale and shape estimates (α and β, respectively). We then demonstrate how mixing cycle time and intensity affect the dispersion of two IS grades and show that judicious choice of IS can lead to reduced cycle mix times, productivity improvements, and energy cost savings.

You do not currently have access to this content.