The unbelievable new substance with implications for the marine industry

Scientists at a French Higher Educational Institution have come up with a type of rubber that binds back together after being snapped or punctured, a concept that could affect the way liferafts and other marine equipment is designed and manufactured.

Inventor Ludwik Leibler, a polymer chemist at the Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution (ESPCI) in Paris has made a video of the process, which can be seen on Youtube

Leibler and his team published in the journal Nature claiming: ‘These systems, when broken or cut, can be simply repaired by bringing together fractured surfaces to self-heal at room temperature. The process of breaking and healing can be repeated many times. These materials can be easily processed, re-used and recycled.’

Some critics have pointed out that silly putty and chewing gum already perform more or less the same function, however a citation in the journal appears to back up the inventors’ claims: ‘Synthesis of a rubber-like material that can be recycled might not seem exciting. But one that can also repeatedly repair itself at room temperature, without adhesives, really stretches the imagination.’

According to a report in New Scientist magazine, ‘The material is synthesised from fatty acids and urea, which are cheap and renewable. The downside is that getting rid of covalent and ionic bonding means the material is weaker than regular rubber.’