Who Invented Rubber?

Rubber is a natural product and the first person to make changes in the natural composition to make ‘natural rubber’ more rugged and thus more suitable for human use was Charles Goodyear. His invention is known as ‘vulcanized rubber’ and he developed the process in 1839. Although it was not completely synthetic, it contained synthetic elements and it was the first step in this direction.

RubberNatural rubber is a substance made of a chemical compound named isoprene. It is elastic and can be put to many uses but it is vulnerable to changes in temperature, it is a disadvantage because it makes the rubber lose many of its properties. Charles Goodyear wished to improve on it and he tried for years. In the end, he perfected the process in which he added sulfur to the natural rubber and heated the mixture. The result was a stronger and more elastic rubber, known as vulcanized rubber.

Vulcanized rubber is also isoprene but there are some structural changes. The atoms of sulfur act as a bridge between different layers of the molecules of natural rubber, thus making it less susceptible to change in atmospheric conditions. This is also a disadvantage when it comes to recycling the vulcanized rubber to plain rubber because it doesn’t decay by itself rapidly in nature. De-vulcanization processes have now been developed for this. These break the sulfur bonds in the vulcanized rubber and make it easier for the reagents to act. The most common de-vulcanization processes are: (a) modified oil process and (b) water oil process.

Category: Chemistry, Inventions

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