Protein-free natural rubber is expected to be prepared as a source to manufacture medical hygiene products such as surgical gloves, catheters, nursing products and contraceptive devices necessary for medical and nursing fields.
The products manufactured from natural rubber of Hevea brasiliensis remain useful throughout medical operations in comparison with synthetic rubber. One of the reasons is that it opposes breakage by deformation forces from various directions. It also has a potential to address latex allergy that may cause hazardous anaphylactic reactions and respiratory distress.
In addition, protein-free natural rubber will be useful to produce a low-fuel consumption vehicle tyre that reduces mechanical energy loss. Even though, highly deproteinized natural rubbers containing 1/20 proteins are available in market, protein-free natural rubber will have a greater impact on energy consumption reduction as the proteins on the surface of rubber particles are considered to be one of the friction factors.
Protein-free natural rubber is prepared by the complete removal of the proteins from natural para-rubber, i.e. from the Hevea brasiliensis, in which the proteins play an important role as an enzyme in bio-synthesis of the rubber. As a result, the proteins exist at an interface between hydrophobic natural rubber particles and water in the latex state. Protein-free natural rubber is thus prepared in the latex state by using special chemicals.
Until now, enzymes which can decompose protein have been used to remove the proteins from natural rubber. However, the efficiency of the enzymes is too low to remove all the proteins from natural rubber. Recently, more efficient chemicals such as urea were used to remove all proteins from natural rubber.
In this technology, protein-free natural rubber with protein content of 0.00 weight% is prepared by incubation with urea and polar solvents such as acetone or alcohol followed by two or more centrifugation steps. Consequently, this technology offers protein-free natural rubber which is proved to contain 0.0 mg/g of extractable proteins.
Protein-free natural rubber can be utilized in the manufacture of:
The use of protein-free natural rubber in medical hygiene products would be immediately applicable as natural rubber has been used in the application before it was eliminated due to the latex allergy issue.
For other applications, protein-free natural rubber can replace synthetic rubbers which are produced from fossil fuel to contribute to the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).