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Chemists in Saudi Arabia create eco-friendly rubber production process

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Scientists have stated that ethyl alcohol can be used as a raw material in the rubber industry.

Saudi and European chemists have developed a catalyst that allows the production of butadiene, one of the main reagents for rubber production, using ordinary ethyl alcohol as a catalyst. This discovery will allow specialists to produce “green” rubber. The scientists published their study in the journal Nature Catalysis. This was reported by the press service of the University of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

“Most of the butadiene materials currently produced are a by-product of the petrochemical industry and as a result, the quantities of this material available to us are very limited. We have developed a technology to generate random amounts of butadiene,” said Jong Sang, a researcher at King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz University. Using the reaction of Lebedev and alcohol carbon dioxide.

Polymers have become the main structural material. Its popularity is due to the fact that the mechanical and physical properties of structures made from this material can be easily changed by changing the structure or synthesis conditions of this material. Thanks to this, the same raw material can be used for the manufacture of flexible rubber bands and high-strength plastic structures.

And since the main raw materials for the production of rubber and other polymers are currently various forms of natural gas and oil containing short molecules of unsaturated hydrocarbons used in the production of plastics and other polymer products, high prices for hydrocarbon raw materials and limited reserves are forcing scientists to look for new ways to obtain raw materials for the production of polymers.

John Sango and his colleagues demonstrated that butadiene, one of the main raw materials for the production of synthetic rubber, could be obtained using a catalyst they had prepared from a reaction discovered by Soviet-Russian chemist Sergei Lebedev in 1928. Lebedev then discovered that ordinary ethyl alcohol can be converted into butadiene by heating a mixture of alcohol with hydrogen and water to a temperature of 400-500 ° C and passing it through a metal oxide.

This technology was used in the Soviet Union and in many other countries of the world to produce butadiene in the middle of the 20th century, but was subsequently replaced by more efficient and cheaper technologies for extracting this hydrocarbon from oil. Chemists in Saudi Arabia and Europe have found that the efficiency of the Lebedev reaction can be significantly improved and made more competitive if the technology for preparing a catalyst based on silicon and magnesium oxides is used.

This allowed scientists to develop technology that, in theory, will help in the near future to produce catalysts composed of magnesium and silicon for the synthesis of butadiene with small amounts of ethylene and other by-products. The researchers concluded that this would allow the creation of “green” (environmentally friendly) institutions that produce polymers, and at the same time be able to compete with classical technologies that are not environmentally friendly.

Source: TASS

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