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EPDM rubber (ethylene propylene diene monomer (M-class) rubber), a type of synthetic rubber, is an elastomer characterized by a wide range of applications. The M refers to its classification in ASTM standard D-1418; the M class includes rubbers having a saturated chain of the polymethylene type. Dienes currently used in the manufacture of EPDM rubbers are dicyclopentadiene (DCPD), ethylidene norbornene (ENB), and vinyl norbornene (VNB). EPDM rubber is closely related to ethylene propylene rubber (ethylene propylene rubber is a copolymer of ethylene and propylene, whereas EPDM rubber is a terpolymer of ethylene, propylene, and a diene-component).
The ethylene content is around 45% to 85%. The higher the ethylene content, the higher the loading possibilities of the polymer, better mixing, and extrusion. Peroxide curing these polymers gives a higher crosslink density compared with their amorphous counterpart. The amorphous polymer is also excellent in processing. This is very much influenced by their molecular structure. The dienes, typically comprising from 2.5% to 12% by weight of the composition, serve as cross-links when curing with sulphur and resin; with peroxide cures, the diene (or third monomer) functions as a coagent, which provides resistance to unwanted tackiness, creep, or flow during end use.
EPDM exhibits satisfactory compatibility with fireproof hydraulic fluids, ketones, hot and cold water, and alkalis and exhibits unsatisfactory compatibility with most oils, gasoline, kerosene, aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons, halogenated solvents, and concentrated acids.
The main properties of EPDM are its outstanding heat, ozone, and weather resistance. The resistance to polar substances and steam are also good. It has excellent electrical insulating properties. It has good resistance to ketones, ordinary diluted acids, and alkalines.
Typical properties of EPDM vulcanizates are given below. EPDM can be compounded to meet specific properties to a limit, depending first on the EPDM polymers available, then the processing and curing method(s) employed. EPDMs are available in a range of molecular weights (indicated in terms of Mooney viscosity ML(1+4) at 125 °C), varying levels of ethylene, third monomer, and oil content.
|Hardness, Shore A||40–90|
|Tensile failure stress, ultimate||25 MPa|
|Elongation after fracture in %||≥ 300%|
|Density||Can be compounded from 0.90 to >2.00 g/cm3|
|Coefficient of thermal expansion, linear||160 µm/m·K|
|Maximum service temperature||150 °C|
|Minimum service temperature||−50 °C|
|Glass transition temperature||−54 °C|
EPDM rubber is used in seals (for example, it is used in cold-room doors since it is an insulator, as well as in the face seals of industrial respirators in automotive paint spray environments, where silicone must be avoided). EPDM is also used in glass-run channels, radiators, garden and appliance hose, tubing, pond liners, washers, belts, electrical insulation, vibrators, O-rings, solar panel heat collectors, and speaker cone surrounds.
It is also used as a medium for water resistance in electrical cable-jointing, roofing membranes (since it does not pollute the run-off rainwater, which is of vital importance for rainwater harvesting), geomembranes, rubber mechanical goods, plastic impact modification, thermoplastic, vulcanizates, and many other applications. Colored EPDM granules are mixed with polyurethane binders and troweled or sprayed onto concrete, asphalt, screenings, interlocking brick, wood, etc. to create a non-slip, soft, porous safety surface for wet-deck areas such as pool decks and as safety surfacing under playground play equipment (designed to help lessen fall injury).
The most common use, however, is probably in vehicles. It is used in door seals, window seals, trunk seals, and sometimes hood seals. Frequently, these seals are the source of noise due to movement of the door against the car body and the resulting friction between the EPDM rubber and the mating surface (painted sheet metal or glass). This can be alleviated using specialty coatings that are applied at the time of manufacture of the weather seal. Such coatings can also greatly increase the chemical resistance of EPDM rubber. Some vehicle manufacturers also recommend a light application of silicone dielectric grease to weatherstripping to reduce noise. Other uses in vehicles include cooling system circuit hoses where water pumps, thermostats, EGR valves, EGR coolers, heaters, oil coolers, radiators, and degas bottles are connected with EPDM hoses, as well as charge air tubing on turbocharged engines to connect the cold side of the charge air cooler (intercooler) to the intake manifold.
- Ravishankar, P.S. (2012). "Treatise on EPDM". Rubber Chemistry and Technology 85. p. 327-349.
- Green, Mark M.; Wittcoff, Harold A. (July 2003). Organic Chemistry Principles and Industrial Practice. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley. p. 170. ISBN 978-3-527-30289-5. "In addition to natural rubber, many synthetic rubbers…such as…ethylene-propylene-diene monomer rubber…"
- Louie, Douglas K. (2005). "Elastomers". Handbook of sulphuric acid manufacturing. Richmond Hill, Canada: DKL Engineering, Inc. pp. 16–116. ISBN 978-0-9738992-0-7. "EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer is a M class Rubber containing a saturated chain of the polyethylene type."
- "Designing with Rubber", Technical Documentation Orings, Eriks, p. 33
- Azom.com, Ethylene Propylene Rubbers, Friday, 20 April 2012
- iisrp, Ethylene-Propylene Rubbers & Elastomers, Friday, 20 April 2012