What is rubber and where does it come from? Rubber is a natural product produced by plants and is present in many of the goods used in our daily lives.Rubber has had an important role in human history, throughout the development of human civilizations. It still plays an important role, and that is why we need to search for new rubber sources. Nowadays, 99% of the natural rubber we use is extracted from a tree called Hevea brasiliensis.
WHAT IS NATURAL RUBBER?Natural rubber is produced from plants and is classified as a polymer
A chemical compound with large molecules made of many smaller molecules of the same kind. Some polymers exist naturally and others are produced in laboratories and factories.
. A polymer is a chemical compound with large molecules made of many smaller molecules of the same kind. Some polymers exist naturally and others are produced in laboratories and factories.
Natural rubber is one of the most important polymers for human society. Natural rubber is an essential raw material used in the creation of more than 40,000 products. It is used in medical devices, surgical gloves, aircraft and car tires, pacifiers, clothes, toys, etc. Natural rubber is obtained from latex
A whitish milky fluid containing proteins, starch, alkaloids, etc., that is produced by many plants. In some plants it also contains rubber.
, a milky liquid present in either the latex vessels (ducts) or in the cells of rubber-producing plants. Around 20,000 species of plants produce latex, but only 2,500 species have been found to contain rubber in their latex. The biological function of rubber for the plants is not fully known. However, it has been shown that rubber can help plants to heal after they are damaged, by covering wounds and stopping the bleeding. This blocks the entry of harmful bacteria and viruses into the plants.
The properties of rubber include high strength and the capability to be stretched many times without breaking. Natural rubber compounds are exceptionally flexible, good electrical insulators, and are resistant to many corrosive substances.
Synthetic (man-made) rubber can be produced through a chemical process, but people have not been able to produce a synthetic rubber that has all the properties of natural rubber. So, natural rubber cannot be replaced by synthetic rubber in most of its applications. This is why natural rubber is still very important to human society.