What is Micronized Rubber Powder
Being Small Has Big Advantages
Before we can talk about what Lehigh’s Micronized Rubber Powder is, we need to look at the definitions of the two other types of materials you may have heard of when people speak about post-industrial tire rubber. What you will find is a progression of technology with a quantum leap between 2nd and 3rd-generation technology, a higher performance sustainable rubber that is technically advanced, tough, durable, very versatile, and made in an environmentally-friendly way.
Rubber Chips. Typically 1” chips and larger and used in tire derived fuel and civil engineering projects, such as embankments, retaining walls, municipal solid waste landfills, and below roads. This is 1st-generation technology.
Crumb Rubber (also known as tire granule, or ground tire rubber “GTR”). Typically less than 1” chips and mostly 40 mesh (or 400 microns) and larger; fiber and steel are mostly removed; and is used in asphalt, as mulch in playgrounds, and athletic surfaces. This is 2nd-generation Technology, which Lehigh Technologies uses as feedstock to make Micronized Rubber Powder.
Micronized Rubber Powder, or MRP, is 80 mesh (or 180 microns) and smaller (300 mesh or 50 microns) and is virtually metal and fiber free. This micron size is the consistency of flour; smaller than the width of a human hair. Lehigh Technologies’ proprietary cryogenic manufacturing process takes crumb rubber material and “upcycles” it into micron-scale. MRP is 3rd-generation technology; more technically advanced allowing for more sustainable rubber to be available to more industries in higher value applications. These high value applications include high performance tires, plastics, coatings, and roofing systems. To learn more about Micronized Rubber Powder, visit the MRP Wikipedia page.
Being small has its advantages. Due to its micron size and consistent high quality, MRP is easy to incorporate into new or existing formulations, is compatible with multiple polymers, and provides a smooth surface appearance on finished products.
Is Tire Rubber Safe?
Ground tire rubber has gone through extensive testing in the US and Europe by independent laboratories and government agencies regarding its health and safety. Ground tire rubber has been found to be safe in these specific application tests. A list of these tests and conclusions, including Lehigh Technologies’ third-party REACH/SVHC report, can be obtained by contacting your appropriate representative.
Additionally, the U.S. EPA conducted a study on using tire rubber on field turfs and playgrounds and concluded that “…the concentrations of materials that made up tire crumb were below levels considered harmful.” To read more on the EPA’s study, click here. Although Lehigh does not market its MRPs into the field turf or playground markets, our products are derived from a similar source and believe the findings from these studies are relevant due to the frequent human contact made in these applications.
Additionally, in its Scrap Tire Markets in the United States 9th Biennial Report May 2009, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) references its RMA Report. After conducting a thorough review of the literature (from advocates as well as opponents) on the potential health and ecological risks associated with the use of rubber crumb in consumer applications, the RMA concluded that “…no adverse human health or ecological effects are likely to result from these beneficial reuses of tire materials.” To learn more go to www.rma.org.
Notable government studies referenced in RMA’s analysis include The Consumer Products Safety Commission, California Integrated Waste Management Board, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation/Department of Health.
Studies from international government agencies have also been conducted by Norwegian Pollution Control Agency, French Environmental Agency (ADEME), and National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM, Netherlands).