Imagine getting a flat tire, but instead of swapping it out for a new one you just smear on a chemical that makes the rubber meld seamlessly back together. That’s the kind of breakthrough researchers at Australia’s Flinders University are now reporting, and better yet the material is made of waste products and can be easily recycled itself.
The new material is made up of more than 50 percent sulphur, mixed with some canola cooking oil and a chemical compound called dicyclopentadiene (DCPD). This unusual concoction makes for a versatile and sustainable new form of rubber.
But the weirdest part is that this material is a “latent adhesive” – basically, glue waiting for its cue. The missing ingredient is an amine catalyst, and once that’s applied the rubber becomes sticky again, allowing it to bond with itself so completely that it doesn’t lose any strength.