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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W018977/1
Title: Sustainable manufacturing of circular economy elastomer products
Principal Investigator: Chen, Professor B
Other Investigators:
Busfield, Professor J Zhang, Professor M Martin, Dr PJ
Peijs, Professor T Cunningham, Dr E
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Aditya Birla Group Colorite Europe Ltd Croda (Global)
Smiley Monroe Ltd The Weir Group plc
Department: Sch Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 18 July 2022 Ends: 17 July 2025 Value (£): 1,247,406
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complex fluids & soft solids Manufacturing Machine & Plant
Materials testing & eng.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 Nov 2021 Sustainable manufacturing Full Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The sustainability of rubber products is a major global challenge mainly due to the huge amount of rubber waste generated each year. Furthermore, many elastomer products including most car tyres are manufactured from fossil fuel-based materials, which are not renewable. This proposed research programme aims to tackle these challenges by manufacturing novel circular economy elastomer products from renewable biobased feedstocks, with zero waste, high resource efficiency and no reliance on fossil fuels, thus transforming the elastomer field. Two types of elastomer products will be manufactured for various applications, namely self-healing natural rubber products which can self-repair repeatedly after damage, and be reused, reprocessed and recycled after their end of life; and biobased thermoplastic elastomer products which can be reprocessed and recycled due to their thermoplastic nature. The new elastomers will be prepared and characterised, followed by the process optimisation, manufacture and evaluation of representative elastomer products using the optimal elastomers and elastomer composites as well as manufacturing processes. Subsequently, the self-repair, reuse, reprocessing and recycling behaviour of the new elastomer products will be assessed. Finally, the energy consumption and carbon emissions of the product lifecycle, product costs and the impact of the new products on the whole supply chain will be assessed. An interdisciplinary team of rubber and polymer scientists and manufacturing engineers, as well as a management scientist, will work on the programme together employing a holistic approach ranging from material design and synthesis, through to product manufacturing and finally self-repair, reuse and recycling. At the end of the programme, innovative biobased circular economy elastomer products will have been sustainably manufactured with their fundamental science and broader impact understood. The sustainable materials, manufacturing technologies, and the scientific understanding obtained from this research can be extended to other elastomer products in the future, ensuring the long-lasting sustainability of elastomer products and industry.

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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk