JK Fenner, IIT Madras partner to support research on biodegradable alternatives, Health News, ET HealthWorld

JK Fenner, IIT Madras partner to support research on biodegradable alternativesChennai: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) is partnering with JK Fenner (India) Limited for research and development of a biodegradable alternative to elastomers/rubber products used in the production of various utilitarian items. JK Fenner is providing support for this research project as part of its CSR initiatives. The CSR funding will also support research to explore modification of natural fibres such as cotton, hemp, among others to substitute synthetic materials in belts.

An MoU towards this collaboration was signed at IIT Madras Campus on 7th July 2022 by Prof Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, and Nagaraju Srirama, President and Director, JK Fenner (India) Limited, in the presence of faculty and officials from IIT Madras and representatives from JK Fenner.

This research is vital as although natural rubber is biodegradable, the finished product is slow to biodegrade, in part, due to the presence of non-degradable chemical units that function as molecular bridges.

Most synthetic rubbers are also not amenable to biodegradation due to their structural feature, which consists of carbon-carbon single bonds in the backbone. Hence, the finished rubber product after its service life remains without much structural degradation for a long period of time.

An IIT Madras research team headed by Prof R Dhamodharan, Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras, aims to tackle this issue by research and development of effective, biodegradable, molecular bridges as an alternative, through their research.

Elaborating on the scope of their research, Prof Dhamodharan said, “The structure of the polymer to address these issues should be amenable to the ‘standard curing procedure’ established in the rubber industry. The polymer as well as the ‘crosslinker’ or the ‘bridge molecule’ used in the curing should also be designed with structural features that would make it suitable for biodegradation.”

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