Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) is partnering with JK Fenner (India) Ltd., a leading corporate in India, for the 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 the modification of natural fibres such as cotton, and 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 Shri. Nagaraju Srirama, President and Director, J.K. Fenner (India) Limited, in the presence of faculty and officials from IIT Madras and representatives from J.K. Fenner (India) Ltd.
Highlighting the impact of this CSR Funding, Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, said: “We are proud to partner with JK Fenner, an industry leader, on this impactful CSR initiative. We jointly believe that CSR invested in technology development is a sound way to ensure a more sustainable tomorrow for all of us.”
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.
Speaking about this CSR Partnership with IIT Madras, Shri. Nagaraju Srirama, President and Director, J.K. Fenner (India) Ltd., said: “JK Fenner India Limited is happy to partner with IIT Madras, the premier research institute in the country for developing the next generation rubber which is going to be biodegradable and the environment- friendly. This research will set a new direction in the rubber industry (belts/hoses) which will be environmentally friendly and will support our initiative towards a sustainable future.”
An IIT Madras Research Team headed by Prof. R. Dhamodharan, Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras, aims to tackle this issue by researching and developing effective, biodegradable, molecular bridges as an alternative, through their research.
Elaborating on the scope of their research, Principal Investigator Prof. R. Dhamodharan, Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras, 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.”