In December 2007, the European Commission imposed a total of € 247 635 000 fines on the five largest manufacturers of chloroprene rubber for participating in a cartel. As a result of this price fixing and market abuse by large enterprises, the SME involvement in this sector has diminished and requires research investment to re-build its presence. Additionally there is increasing pressure to replace the vulcanisation accelerator, ethylene thiourea (ETU), due to its assessment as a Cat 2 rep carcinogen as per the EU classification, IARC and EPA. It is believed that under REACH it will be classified as a CMR substance (Carcinogenic/Mutagenic/toxic for Reproduction) which will lead to legislation prohibiting or banning its use. The ‘SafeRubber’ project aims to develop a safer alternative accelerator to replace the carcinogenic ethylene thiourea (ETU) based accelerators to be used in the manufacturing of rubbers such as polychloroprene (CR) and epichlorohydrin (ECO). This will be based around a new catalyst molecule that has tri-functionality, which offers the added benefit of reducing consumption of metal oxides during manufacturing, lowering manufacturing costs and giving SMEs another unique differentiator, allowing them to compete in the market.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeBSG-SME-AG - Research for SME associations/groupings