What is Micronized Rubber Powder

Lehigh Technologies’ micronized rubber powder (MRP)–transformed from end-of-life tires and other post-industrial rubber–is a lower cost, high-performance, sustainable specialty material that replaces oil- and rubber-based materials to reduce costs and cut waste. These micron-scale powders are sold to manufacturers of advanced products, including high-performance tires, industrial rubber, consumer and industrial plastics goods, asphalt and coatings and construction materials.

A Third-Generation Technology

Micronized Rubber Powder is a third-generation technology that represents a significant advancement over previous post-manufactured rubber processing technologies. Our next generation technology ensures MRP is a higher-performance, sustainable raw material that is technically advanced, tough, durable, very versatile and made in an environmentally-friendly way.

First Generation
The most basic technology for recycling rubber converts end-of-life tire and post-industrial rubber material into rubber chips that are typically one inch or larger in size. These chips are then used in tire-derived fuel and civil engineering projects. However, because of their relatively large size, these materials are not versatile or suitable for high-value applications. 

Second Generation
Second-generation processing technology converts the end-of-life tire and rubber material into crumb rubber—also known as tire granulate, or ground tire rubber (GTR). This crumb rubber typically comprises chips between one inch and 30 mesh in size, with the associated fiber and steel mostly removed. Crumb rubber applications are nonetheless limited. The material is used in asphalt, as garden mulch and in playgrounds.

The Next Generation
Lehigh‘s proprietary cryogenic turbo mill technology transforms crumb rubber material into micron-scale rubber powders of various sizes, including 80 mesh and down to 300 mesh. Unlike other technologies, MRP is virtually metal and fiber-free, enabling its use in a wider range of advanced products. These applications include high-performance tires, plastics, coatings and roofing systems.

To put MRP size in context, this micron-size material has the consistency of flour and is smaller than a human hair in diameter. And being small has its advantages. MRP is easy to incorporate into new or existing formulations, is compatible with multiple polymers, and provides a smooth surface appearance on finished products.

A Safe and Proven Material

Products derived from end-of-life tire rubber have gone through extensive testing for health and safety in the United States and Europe by independent laboratories and government agencies. In all of these application tests, GTR has been found to be safe. Additionally, the U.S. EPA conducted a study on using tire rubber on field turfs and playgrounds, concluding that “…the concentrations of materials that made up tire crumb were below levels considered harmful.” You can read more on the EPA’s study here.

In 2009, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) released the findings of a report entitled “Scrap Tire Markets in the United States 9th Biennial Report May 2009.” After conducting a thorough review of the literature on the potential health and ecological risks associated with the use of rubber crumb in consumer applications, the RMA concluded in its report that “…no adverse human health or ecological effects are likely to result from these beneficial reuses of tire materials.” Notable government studies referenced in this analysis include those from 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. For the full RMA report, visit www.rma.org.

International government agencies, including the Norwegian Pollution Control Agency, French Environmental Agency (ADEME), and National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM, Netherlands), have also conducted their own studies on GTR, finding these materials to be completely safe.

A list of these tests and conclusions, including Lehigh Technologies’ third-party REACH/SVHC report, can be obtained by contacting Lehigh here.

MRP Explained

Dave Petroni, vice president of operations at Lehigh, walks us through how MRP is produced.

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