Accelerators Laboratory

Multidisciplinary research using charged particle beams


Elastomers (rubbers) are materials used in a large number of industrial and household applications. One of the most often used physical-chemical treatment is curing (cross-linking) imparting rubber thermal and mechanical stability. Elastomers have low thermal conductivity coefficients, their heating being difficult and requiring complex and high-cost technics, accordingly; therefore, application of ionizing (accelerated electrons) and non-ionizing (microwaves) radiation in cross-linking and grafting processes is of great interest. Because of their reliability, flexibility, low-costs along with no environment impact, the irradiation technologies are particularly attractive. Because of many advantages of such technologies, there are more than 800 electron accelerators for industrial applications, intended particularly for polymerization, cross-linking, grafting, etc. all over the world.

Radiation induced cross-linking and grafting of polymers is a new technique in polymer processing with no chemical agent. Employing the radiation as energy source is justified on the one hand by the limitation of the classic sources and, on the other hand by a series of specific advantages over the traditional thermal curing, like as:

* lack of curing agents, except of activators for rubber;

* obtaining new highly pure materials ( intended for medical devices, rubber items for food industry, children toys, etc.);

* enables the new rubber types which cannot be cross- linked chemically or can be hardly cross-linked by usual curing procedures to be processed into finished products with major industrial applications (aircraft, army, medicine);

* the process is very fast and can be controlled precisely;

* the electron beam can be steered very easily to meet the requirements of various geometrical shapes of the products to be cured;

* thew high penetrating power of radiation allows the efficient curing of thick polymeric articles uniformly;

* the process is practically free of waste products.

Research Areas