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What is Natural rubber?

Natural rubber (NR) is an elastomer (an elastic hydrocarbon polymer) that was originally derived from a milky colloidal suspension, or latex, found in the sap of some plants.

The purified form of natural rubber is the chemical polyisoprene, which can also be produced synthetically. Natural rubber is used extensively in many applications and products, as is synthetic rubber.


Rubber exhibits unique physical and chemical properties. Rubber's stress-strain behavior exhibits the Mullins effect, the Payne effect, and is often modeled as hyperelastic. Rubber strain crystallizes.

Owing to the presence of a double bond in each repeat unit, natural rubber is sensitive to ozone cracking.


There are two main solvents for rubber: turpentine and naphtha (petroleum). The former has been in use since 1763 when François Fresnau made the discovery. Giovanni Fabronni is credited with the discovery of naphtha as a rubber solvent in 1779. Because rubber does not dissolve easily, the material is finely divided by shredding prior to its immersion.

An ammonia solution can be used to prevent the coagulation of raw latex while it is being transported from its collection site.

Chemical makeup

Latex is a natural polymer of isoprene (most often cis-1,4-polyisoprene) - with a molecular weight of 100,000 to 1,000,000. Typically, a small percent (up to 5% of dry mass) of other materials, such as proteins, fatty acids, resins and inorganic materials (salts) are found in natural rubber. Polyisoprene is also created synthetically, producing what is sometimes referred to as "synthetic natural rubber".

Some natural rubber sources called gutta percha are composed of trans-1,4-polyisoprene, a structural isomer which has similar, but not identical, properties.

Natural rubber is an elastomer and a thermoplastic. However, it should be noted that as the rubber is vulcanized, it will turn into a thermoset. Most rubber in everyday use is vulcanized to a point where it shares properties of both; i.e., if it is heated and cooled, it is degraded but not destroyed.


Rubber latex is extracted from Rubber trees. The economic life period of rubber trees in plantations is around 32 years – up to 7 years of immature phase and about 25 years of productive phase.

The soil requirement of the plant is generally well-drained weathered soil consisting of laterite, lateritic types, sedimentary types, nonlateritic red or alluvial soils.

The climatic conditions for optimum growth of Rubber trees consist of (a) Rainfall of around 250 cm evenly distributed without any marked dry season and with at least 100 rainy days per annum (b) Temperature range of about 20°C to 34°C with a monthly mean of 25°C to 28°C (c) High atmospheric humidity of around 80% (d) Bright sunshine amounting to about 2000 hours per annum at the rate of 6 hours per day throughout the year and (e) Absence of strong winds.

Many high-yielding clones have been developed for commercial planting. These clones yield more than 2,000 kilograms of dry Rubber per hectare per annum, when grown under ideal conditions.


The use of rubber is widespread, ranging from household to industrial products, entering theproduction stream at the intermediate stage or as final products. Tires and tubes are the largest consumers of rubber. The remaining 44% are taken up by the general rubber goods (GRG) sector, which includes all products except tires and tubes.


  • Rubbery Materials and their Compounds by J.A Brydson
  • Rubber Technology by Maurice Morton
  • Hobhouse, Henry (2003, 2005). Seeds of Wealth: Five Plants That Made Men Rich. Shoemaker & Hoard. pp. 125–185. ISBN 1-59376-089-2. 

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