A Safer Alternative Replacement for Thiourea Accelerators in the production process of Chloroprene Rubber, Код 7 / ВЕЛИКОБРИТАНИЯ


Title of project

A Safer Alternative Replacement for Thiourea Accelerators in the production process of Chloroprene Rubber


Safe Rubber

Call targeted


Call deadline

28th May 2009

Funding scheme

Research for SME Associations (formerly Collective Research)

Date form submitted

7th April 2009

Deadline for partner search

1st May 2009

Project duration

36 months

Project budget

Approx €2.5million


The Need

In December 2007, the European Commission imposed a total of € 247 635 000 fines on the five largest manufacturers of chloroprene rubber for participating in a cartel in the European Economic Area (EEA) in violation of the EC Treaty’s ban on cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 81). Between 1993 and 2002, these companies shared the market and fixed prices for chloroprene rubber, which is used in a range of industrial products, such as latex for the production of diving equipment, condoms and the inner soles of shoes and as adhesive. As a result of this price fixing and market abuse by large enterprises, the SME involvement in this sector has diminished and requires research investment to re-build its presence.


The vulcanization of polychloroprene is usually performed using metal oxides and derivatives of thiourea, primarily ethylene thiourea (ETU) due to giving excellent physical properties, good ageing resistance and good sealing properties.


However, a substitution of ETU is necessary and inevitable due to its assessment as a Cat 2 rep carcinogen as per the EU classification, IARC and EPA. It is believed that under REACH it will be classified as a CMR substance (Carcinogenic/Mutagenic/toxic for Reproduction) which will lead to legislation prohibiting or banning its use.


The Market

The global market for Chloroprene rubber is estimated to be ~€2 bn and is currently growing at the rate of 3% per annum. In Europe, the total market for Chloroprene rubber is approx. 30% whereas in the US the figure is ~27% and Japan ~26%.

Target market values and penetrations (5 years post project)

·         ETU replacement accelerator sales: Europe – 10%, ~€2 Mn; Globally – 3%, ~€4 Mn

·         Chloroprene Rubber sales: Europe – 1%, €12.5 Mn; Globally – 1%, €39.6Mn


The Concept

The "REPLACE" project aims to develop a safer alternative accelerator/vulcanising agent to replace the carcinogenic ethylene thiourea (ETU) based accelerators to be used in the manufacturing of rubbers such as polychloroprene (CR) and epichlorohydrin (ECO).  This will be based around a new catalyst molecule that has tri-functionality, which offers the added benefit of reducing consumption of metal oxides during manufacturing, lowering manufacturing costs and giving SMEs another unique differentiator, allowing them to access the market.


The Research for the Benefit of SME Associations call will provide for all of the necessary technical work to be undertaken and subsequent IP to be used preferentially by the project partners (and members of IAGs) excluding large-enterprises – thus leading to protectable competitive advantage.



Description of partner

Rubber processor. Industrial partner with expertise in the processing of Chloroprene rubbers.

Role of partner

Validation of product performance using new CR material (made from new accelerator) in comparison to existing CR products.

Benefits to partner

Benefits during project include: networking opportunities, opportunity to be involved in FP7 project etc.

Benefits post project include: Preferential use of technology