The term elastomer means rubbery plastic. Certain elastomers can self-repair damage without human intervention, reducing maintenance needs in road and bridge applications such as seals, shock absorbers and anti-vibration devices. The EU-funded SHINE (Self healing innovative elastomers for dynamic seals, damping and noise reduction) project developed and validated new, self-repairing elastomers for such applications. Initial stages focused on creating unreinforced self-repairing elastomers with superior mechanical properties. The team selected and combined different materials and repair strategies to provide the necessary combination of properties. Researchers focused on the interactions between the three chosen types of self-repair chemistries. Next, the group developed a new type of composite self-repairing elastomer, involving controlled reactions among the polymers, the surfaces of nano-sized fillers and the fibres. Such work yielded 18 initial elastomers, assessed in terms of self-repair properties using a variety of new techniques developed by SHINE. The study produced new understanding of the applicability of the elastomers to the target applications. Five candidate polymers were up-scaled, with three being successfully applied in applications including asphalt, rail-mat systems, rigid support for rail systems and bearing seals. Although promising, no candidate elastomer exactly met the requirements for the target application. SHINE's new analytical methods and compounds help make self-repairing elastomers for transportation applications possible in the future.
Self-repairing, transportation, elastomer, SHINE, self-healing