PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP1854838 27.12.2007
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0001854838
Titel KAUTSCHUKZUSAMMENSETZUNG UND LUFTREIFEN DAMIT
Anmelder Bridgestone Corp., Tokio/Tokyo, JP
Erfinder MORI, Noriko, -1, Ogawahigashi-cho, Kodaira-shi, Tokyo, JP;
SUZUKI, Eiji, -1, Ogawahigashi-cho, Kodaira-shi, Tokyo, JP;
MASAKI, Kouji, -1, Ogawahigashi-cho, Kodaira-shi, Tokyo, JP
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
Vertragsstaaten DE, ES, FR, GB, IT
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 24.02.2006
EP-Aktenzeichen 067145680
WO-Anmeldetag 24.02.2006
PCT-Aktenzeichen PCT/JP2006/303429
WO-Veröffentlichungsnummer 2006093048
WO-Veröffentlichungsdatum 08.09.2006
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 14.11.2007
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 27.12.2007
IPC-Hauptklasse C08L 7/00(2006.01)A, F, I, 20071016, B, H, EP
IPC-Nebenklasse C08K 3/04(2006.01)A, L, I, 20071016, B, H, EP   C08K 3/36(2006.01)A, L, I, 20071016, B, H, EP   C08L 9/00(2006.01)A, L, I, 20071016, B, H, EP   C08L 9/06(2006.01)A, L, I, 20071016, B, H, EP   

Beschreibung[en]
TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to a rubber composition and a pneumatic tire using the rubber composition in at least a ground-contacting part of a tread portion, and more particularly to a rubber composition having a high storage modulus (G') and a low loss tangent (tan &dgr;).

BACKGROUND ART

Lately, it is strongly demanded to reduce a fuel consumption of an automobile in connection with a worldwide effluent control of carbon dioxide associated with a growing interest in environmental problems. In order to cope with such a demand, it is demanded to reduce a rolling resistance as a tire performance. As a means for reducing the rolling resistance of the tire, it is effective to use a rubber composition having a smaller loss tangent (tan &dgr;) and a low heat buildup as a rubber composition applied to a tread portion of the tire.

On the other hand, as a rubber composition applied to the tread portion of the tire is preferable a rubber composition having a high storage modulus (G'), so that there is required a rubber composition having a low loss tangent (tan &dgr;) and a high storage modulus (G'). In this context, as a means for improving the storage modulus (G') of the rubber composition, there are known a method wherein an amount of carbon black compounded in the rubber composition is increased, a technique wherein a bismaleimide (BMI) having a specified structure such as N,N'-(4,4'-diphenylmethane)-bismaleimide or the like is compounded as described in JP-A-2002-121326 , and a technique wherein a compound having both a reactive group for a rubber component and an adsorption group for a filler such as polyethylene glycol dimaleate (PEGM) or the like is compounded as described in JP-A-2003-176378 .

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

However, when the amount of the carbon black compounded in the rubber composition is increased, the storage modulus (G') of the rubber composition can be improved, but the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the rubber composition simultaneously rises to deteriorate the low heat buildup of the rubber composition and further there is a problem that a Mooney viscosity of the rubber composition rises to deteriorate a processability.

Also, when the bismaleimide (BMI) or the compound having the reactive group for the rubber component and the adsorption group for the filler is compounded into the rubber composition, the storage modulus (G') of the rubber composition can be improved, but the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the rubber composition is approximately equivalent and the low heat buildup of the rubber composition cannot be sufficiently improved.

It is, therefore, an object of the invention to solve the above-mentioned problems of the conventional techniques and to provide a rubber composition having a high storage modulus (G') and a low loss tangent (tan &dgr;). Also, it is another object of the invention to provide a pneumatic tire using such a rubber composition in at least a ground-contacting part of a tread portion.

The inventors have made various studies in order to achieve the above objects and discovered that the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the rubber composition can be considerably lowered while highly improving the storage modulus (G') by using a relatively low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer having specified aromatic vinyl compound content, vinyl bond content and weight average molecular weight and at least one functional group instead of a commonly used softening agent such as aromatic oil or the like in the rubber composition, and as a result the invention has been accomplished.

That is, the rubber composition according to the invention comprises 2 to 60 parts by mass of a low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) having an aromatic vinyl compound content of 5 to 80% by mass, a vinyl bond content in a conjugated diene compound portion of 5 to 80% by mass, a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography and converted to polystyrene of 5,000 to 500,000 and at least one functional group based on 100 parts by mass of a rubber component (A) composed of at least one of natural rubber and synthetic diene-based rubbers.

In the rubber composition according to the invention, it is preferable that the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is formed through a modification with a tin-containing compound, a silicon-containing compound or a nitrogen-containing compound.

In a preferable embodiment of the rubber composition according to the invention, the functional group of the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is a tin-containing functional group, a silicon-containing functional group or a nitrogen-containing functional group.

In another preferable embodiment of the rubber composition according to the invention, not less than 50% by mass of the rubber component (A) is styrene-butadiene copolymer rubber. In this case, the effects of improving the storage modulus (G') and lowering the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) by compounding the low-molecular weight copolymer (B) become remarkable.

In the other preferable embodiment of the rubber composition according to the invention, the aromatic vinyl compound in the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is styrene.

In a further preferable embodiment of the rubber composition according to the invention, the conjugated diene compound in the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is 1,3-butadiene.

The rubber composition according to the invention is preferable to further contain 30 to 90 parts by mass of a filler based on 100 parts by mass of the rubber component (A). In this case, the workability of the rubber composition is good and further fracture characteristics and wear resistance of a vulcanized rubber obtained by vulcanizing the rubber composition are sufficiently high. Moreover, it is more preferable that the filler is carbon black and/or silica.

In another preferable embodiment of the rubber composition according to the invention, a total amount of the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) and a softening agent compounded is 2 to 80 parts by mass based on 100 parts by mass of the rubber component (A). In this case, the fracture characteristics of the vulcanized rubber obtained by vulcanizing the rubber composition are sufficiently high.

In the rubber composition according to the invention, the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is preferable to have a weight average molecular weight as measured with a gel permeation chromatography and converted to polystyrene of 20,000 to 400,000, more preferably 50,000 to 400,000.

In the rubber composition according to the invention, the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is preferable to have a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography prior to the introduction of the functional group and converted to polystyrene of 5,000 to 200,000, more preferably 20,000 to 150,000, even more preferably 50,000 to 150,000.

In the rubber composition according to the invention, it is preferable that the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) has a glass transition point (Tg) of not higher than 0°C.

In another preferable embodiment of the rubber composition according to the invention, the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is formed through a polymerization using an organic alkaline metal compound or a rare-earth metal compound. Moreover, as the organic alkaline metal compound is preferable an alkyllithium.

In the rubber composition according to the invention, as the nitrogen-containing functional group of the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) are preferable a substituted or unsubstituted amino group, amide group, imino group, imidazole group, nitrile group and pyridyl group, and particularly a substituted amino group represented by the following formula (I): [wherein R1 is independently an alkyl group having a carbon number of 1-12, a cycloalkyl group or an aralkyl group] and a cyclic amino group represented by the following formula (II): [wherein R2 is an alkylene group having 3-16 methylene groups, a substituted alkylene group, an oxyalkylene group or a N-alkylamino-alkylene group] are more preferable. These nitrogen-containing functional groups have a high effect on dispersing the filler in the rubber composition compounded with various fillers such as carbon black, silica, aluminum hydroxide and so on, and can considerably lower the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the rubber composition having any formulation while highly improving the storage modulus (G').

Also, the pneumatic tire according to the invention is characterized in that the above rubber composition is used in at least a ground-contacting part of a tread portion.

According to the invention, there can be provided a rubber composition having a high storage modulus (G') and a low loss tangent (tan &dgr;) and using a liquid low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer having specified aromatic vinyl compound content, vinyl bond content and weight average molecular weight and at least one functional group. Also, there can be provided a pneumatic tire using such a rubber composition in at least a ground-contacting part of a tread portion.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

The invention will be described in detail below. The rubber composition according to the invention comprises 2 to 60 parts by mass of a low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) having an aromatic vinyl compound content of 5 to 80% by mass, a vinyl bond content in a conjugated diene compound portion of 5 to 80% by mass, a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography and converted to polystyrene of 5,000 to 500,000 and at least one functional group based on 100 parts by mass of a rubber component (A) composed of at least one of natural rubber and synthetic diene-based rubbers.

The inventors have studied and discovered that the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the rubber composition can be lowered while improving the storage modulus (G') and without deteriorating the workability by compounding into the rubber composition a low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer having an aromatic vinyl compound content of 5 to 80% by mass, a vinyl bond content in a conjugated diene compound portion of 5 to 80% by mass and a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography and converted to polystyrene of 5,000 to 500,000 instead of a softening agent such as aromatic oil or the like, and the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the rubber composition can be further lowered while further improving the storage modulus (G') by using the copolymer (B) having at least one functional group obtained by modifying such a low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer.

The rubber component (A) of the rubber composition according to the invention is composed of at least one of natural rubber (NR) and synthetic diene-based rubbers. As the rubber component (A) may be used any of unmodified and modified rubbers. As the synthetic diene-based rubber is preferable one synthesized through emulsion polymerization or solution polymerization. As the synthetic diene-based rubber are concretely mentioned polyisoprene rubber (IR), styrene-butadiene copolymer rubber (SBR), polybutadiene rubber (BR), ethylene-propylene-diene rubber (EPDM), chloroprene rubber (CR), halogenated butyl rubber, acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber (NBR) and so on. Natural rubber, polyisoprene rubber, styrene-butadiene copolymer rubber and polybutadiene rubber are preferable as the rubber component (A) and it is more preferable that not less than 50% by mass of the rubber component (A) is styrene-butadiene copolymer rubber. When not less than 50% by mass of the rubber component (A) is styrene-butadiene copolymer rubber, the effects of improving the storage modulus (G') and lowering the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) by compounding the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) are remarkable. These rubber components may be used alone or in a blend of two or more. Moreover, from a viewpoint of wear resistance and heat resistance of the rubber composition, as the rubber component (A) is preferable one having a glass transition point (Tg) of not lower than -60°C.

The rubber composition according to the invention comprises 2 to 60 parts by mass of the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) having an aromatic vinyl compound content of 5 to 80% by mass, a vinyl bond content in a conjugated diene compound portion of 5 to 80% by mass, a weight average molecular weight as measured with a gel permeation chromatography and converted to polystyrene of 5,000 to 500,000 and at least one functional group based on 100 parts by mass of the rubber component (A). When the amount of the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) compounded is less than 2 parts by mass, the workability of the rubber composition is deteriorated, while when it exceeds 60 parts by mass, the fracture characteristics of the vulcanized rubber tend to be deteriorated.

The low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is required to have an aromatic vinyl compound content of 5 to 80% by mass. When the aromatic vinyl compound content is less than 5% by mass or exceeds 80% by mass, the improvement of the storage modulus (G') and the lowering of the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) in the rubber composition cannot be sufficiently and simultaneously established.

Also, the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is required to have a vinyl bond content in a conjugated diene compound portion of 5 to 80% by mass. When the vinyl bond content in the conjugated diene compound portion is less than 5% by mass or exceeds 80% by mass, the improvement of the storage modulus (G') and the lowering of the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the rubber composition cannot be sufficiently and simultaneously established.

Furthermore, the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) has a weight average molecular weight as converted to polystyrene of 5,000 to 500,000, preferably 20,000 to 400,000, more preferably 50,000 to 400,000. When the weight average molecular weight is less than 5,000, the storage modulus (G') of the rubber composition is deteriorated and the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the rubber composition tends to rise, while when it exceeds 500,000, the workability of the rubber composition is deteriorated. Moreover, the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) preferably has a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography before the introduction of the functional group and converted to polystyrene of 5,000 to 200,000, more preferably 20,000 to 150,000, even more preferably 50,000 to 150,000. In this case, it is easy to improve the storage modulus (G'), lower the loss tangent (tan &dgr;) and ensure the workability of the rubber composition by making the weight average molecular weight after the introduction of the functional group within a range of 5,000 to 500,000.

The low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) can be obtained through (1) a method comprising copolymerizing the aromatic vinyl compound and conjugated diene compound as the monomer with the polymerization initiator to produce an aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer having a polymerization active site and then modifying the polymerization active site with various modifying agents, or (2) a method comprising copolymerizing the aromatic vinyl compound and conjugated diene compound as the monomer with a polymerization initiator having a functional group. The aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer having the polymerization active site may be one produced through an anionic polymerization or a coordination polymerization. As the aromatic vinyl compound are mentioned styrene, p-methylstyrene, m-methylstyrene, p-tert-butyl styrene, &agr;-methylstyrene, chloromethyl styrene, vinyl toluene and so on. Among them, styrene is preferable. On the other hand, as the conjugated diene compound are mentioned 1,3-butadiene, isoprene, 1,3-pentadiene, 2,3-dimethylbutadiene and so on. Among them, 1,3-butadiene is preferable.

When the aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer having the polymerization active site is produced through the anionic polymerization, as the polymerization initiator is preferably used an organic alkaline metal compound, and more preferably a lithium compound. As the lithium compound are mentioned a hydrocarbyl lithium, a lithium amide compound and so on. When the hydrocarbyl lithium is used as the polymerization initiator, the copolymer having a hydrocarbyl group at a polymerization starting terminal and a polymerization active site at another terminal can be obtained. On the other hand, when the lithium amide compound is used as the polymerization initiator, the copolymer having a nitrogen-containing functional group at a polymerization starting terminal and a polymerization active site at another terminal can be obtained, which can be used as the low-molecular weight copolymer (B) in the invention even if it is not modified with the modifying agent. Moreover, the amount of the organic alkaline metal compound used as the polymerization initiator is preferably within a range of 0.2 to 20 mmol per 100 g of the monomer.

As the hydrocarbyl lithium are mentioned ethyl lithium, n-propyl lithium, isopropyl lithium, n-butyl lithium, sec-butyl lithium, tert-octyl lithium, n-decyl lithium, phenyl lithium, 2-naphthyl lithium, 2-butyl-phenyl lithium, 4-phenyl-butyl lithium, cyclohexyl lithium, cyclopentyl lithium, a reaction product of diisopropenylbenzene and butyl lithium and so on. Among them, alkyllithiums such as ethyl lithium, n-propyl lithium, isopropyl lithium, n-butyl lithium, sec-butyl lithium, tert-octyl lithium, n-decyl lithium and so on are preferable, and n-butyl lithium is particularly preferable.

On the other hand, as the lithium amide compound are mentioned lithium hexamethylene imide, lithium pyrrolidide, lithium piperidide, lithium heptamethylene imide, lithium dodecamethylene imide, lithium dimethyl amide, lithium diethyl amide, lithium dipropyl amide, lithium dibutyl amide, lithium dihexyl amide, lithium diheptyl amide, lithium dioctyl amide, lithium di-2-ethylhexyl amide, lithium didecyl amide, lithium-N-methyl piperazide, lithium ethyl propyl amide, lithium ethyl butyl amide, lithium methyl butyl amide, lithium ethyl benzyl amide, lithium methyl phenethyl amide and so on. Among them, cyclic lithium amide compounds such as lithium hexamethylene imide, lithium pyrrolidide, lithium piperidide, lithium heptamethylene imide, lithium dodecamethylene imide and so on are preferable, and lithium hexamethylene imide and lithium pyrrolidide are particularly preferable.

The low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) introduced with at least one nitrogen-containing functional group selected from the group consisting of the substituted amino group represented by the formula (I) and the cyclic amino group represented by the formula (II) can be obtained by using a lithium amide compound represented by the formula: Li-AM [wherein AM is the substituted amino group represented by the formula (I) or the cyclic amino group represented by the formula (II)] as the lithium amide compound.

In the formula (I), R1 is an alkyl group having a carbon number of 1-12, a cycloalkyl group or an aralkyl group and concretely includes methyl group, ethyl group, butyl group, octyl group, cyclohexyl group, 3-phenyl-1-propyl group, isobutyl group and so on. Moreover, R1s may be same or different.

In the formula (II), R2 is an alkylene group having 3-16 methylene groups, a substituted alkylene group, an oxyalkylene group or a N-alkylamino-alkylene group. At this moment, the substituted alkylene group includes monosubstituted to octasubstituted alkylene groups and as a substituent are mentioned a linear or branched alkyl group having a carbon number of 1-12, a cycloalkyl group, a bicycloalkyl group, an aryl group and an aralkyl group. As R2 are concretely preferable trimethylene group, tetramethylene group, hexamethylene group, oxydiethylene group, N-alkylazadiethylene group, dodecamethylene group, hexadecamethylene group and the like.

The lithium amide compound may be previously prepared from a secondary amine and the lithium compound and used for the polymerization reaction, or may be produced in the polymerization system. As the secondary amine are mentioned dimethyl amine, diethyl amine, dibutyl amine, dioctyl amine, dicyclohexyl amine, diisobutyl amine and the like, as well as cyclic amines such as azacycloheptane (i.e., hexamethylene imine), 2-(2-ethylhexyl) pyrrolidine, 3-(2-propyl) pyrrolidine, 3,5-bis(2-ethylhexyl) piperidine, 4-phenyl piperidine, 7-decyl-1-azacyclotridecane, 3,3-dimethyl-1-azacyclotetradecane, 4-dodecyl-1-azacyclooctane, 4-(2-phenylbutyl)-1-azacyclooctane, 3-ethyl-5-cyclohexyl-1-azacycloheptane, 4-hexyl-1-azacycloheptane, 9-isoamyl-1-azacycloheptadecane, 2-methyl-1-azacycloheptadec-9-ene, 3-isobutyl-1-azacyclododecane, 2-methyl-7-t-butyl-1-azacyclododecane, 5-nonyl-1-azacyclododecane, 8-(4'-methylphenyl)-5-pentyl-3-azabicyclo[5.4.0]undecane, 1-butyl-6-azabicyclo[3.2.1]octane, 8-ethyl-3-azabicyclo[3.2.1]octane, 1-propyl-3-azabicyclo[3.2.2]nonane, 3-(t-butyl)-7-azabicyclo[4.3.0]nonane, 1,5,5-trimethyl-3-azabicyclo[4.4.0]decane and the like. On the other hand, as the lithium compound may be used the above-described hydrocarbyl lithium.

The method for producing the aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer through the anionic polymerization by using as the polymerization initiator the organic alkaline metal compound or the like is not particularly limited. For example, the copolymer can be produced by polymerizing a mixture of the conjugated diene compound and aromatic vinyl compound in a hydrocarbon solvent inactive to the polymerization reaction. As the hydrocarbon solvent inactive to the polymerization reaction are mentioned propane, n-butane, isobutane, n-pentane, isopentane, n-hexane, cyclohexane, propene, 1-butene, isobutene, trans-2-butene, cis-2-butene, 1-pentene, 2-pentene, 1-hexene, 2-hexene, benzene, toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene and so on. They may be used alone or in a combination of two or more.

The anionic polymerization may be carried out in the presence of a randomizer. The randomizer can control the microstructure of the conjugated diene compound portion in the copolymer, and more concretely has an action that the vinyl bond content of the conjugated diene compound portion in the copolymer is controlled, the conjugated diene compound unit and aromatic vinyl compound unit in the copolymer are randomized, or the like. As the randomizer are mentioned dimethoxybenzene, tetrahydrofuran, dimethoxyethane, diethylene glycol dibutyl ether, diethylene glycol dimethyl ether, bistetrahydrofuryl propane, triethylamine, pyridine, N-methylmorpholine, N,N,N',N'-tetramethyl ethylenediamine, 1,2-dipiperidinoethane, potassium-t-amylate, potassium-t-butoxide, sodium-t-amylate and so on. The amount of the randomizer used is preferably within a range of 0.01 to 100 molar equivalent per 1 mol of the polymerization initiator.

The anionic polymerization is preferably carried out through solution polymerization. The concentration of the monomer in the polymerization reaction solution is preferably within a range of 5 to 50% by mass, more preferably 10 to 30% by mass. Moreover, the content of the aromatic vinyl compound in the mixture of the conjugated diene compound and aromatic vinyl compound is preferably within a range of 5 to 80% by mass, and can be properly selected depending on the aromatic vinyl compound content of the target copolymer (B). Also, the polymerization system is not particularly limited and may be a batch system or a continuous system.

The polymerization temperature in the anionic polymerization is preferably within a range of 0 to 150°C, more preferably 20 to 130°C. Also, the polymerization may be carried out under a generating pressure, but it is preferable to be usually conducted under a pressure enough to keep the monomers used at substantially a liquid phase. When the polymerization reaction is carried out under a pressure higher than the generating pressure, the reaction system is preferable to be pressurized with an inert gas. Moreover, the starting materials used in the polymerization such as the monomers, polymerization initiator, solvent and the like are preferable to be used after the reaction obstructing substances such as water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, protonic compound and the like are previously removed.

On the other hand, when the aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer having the polymerization active site is produced through the coordination polymerization, as the polymerization initiator is preferably used a rare-earth metal compound, more preferably a combination of the following ingredients (a), (b) and (c).

The ingredient (a) used in the coordination polymerization is selected from the rare-earth metal compound, a complex compound of the rare-earth metal compound and a Lewis base, and so on. As the rare-earth metal compound are mentioned carboxylate, alkoxide, &bgr;-diketone complex, phosphate, phosphite and the like of the rare-earth element. As the Lewis base are mentioned acetylacetone, tetrahydrofuran, pyridine, N,N-dimethylformamide, thiophene, diphenyl ether, triethylamine, organophosphorus compound, monohydric or dihydric alcohol and so on. As the rare-earth element of the rare-earth metal compound are preferable lanthanum, neodymium, praseodymium, samarium and gadolinium. Among them, neodymium is particularly preferable. Also, as the ingredient (a) are concretely mentioned neodymium tri-2-ethylhexanoate and a complex compound with acetylacetone thereof, neodymium trineodecanoate and a complex compound with acetylacetone thereof, neodymium tri-n-butoxide and so on. These ingredients (a) may be used alone or in a combination of two or more.

The ingredient (b) used in the coordination polymerization is selected from organoaluminum compounds. As the organoaluminum compound are concretely mentioned a trihydrocarbyl aluminum represented by the formula: R3Al, a hydrocarbyl aluminum hydride represented by the formula: R2AlH or RAlH2 (wherein R is independently a hydrocarbon group having a carbon number of 1-30), a hydrocarbyl aluminoxane with a hydrocarbon group having a carbon number of 1-30 and so on. As the organoaluminum compound are concretely mentioned trialkyl aluminum, dialkyl aluminum hydride, alkyl aluminum dihydride, alkyl aluminoxane and so on. These compounds may be used alone or in a combination of two or more. Moreover, as the ingredient (b) is preferably used a combination of the aluminoxane and another organoaluminum compound.

The ingredient (c) used in the coordination polymerization is selected from a hydrolyzable halogen-containing compound and a complex compound with the Lewis base thereof; organohalogen compounds having a tertiary alkyl halide, benzyl halide or allyl halide; ionic compounds composed of a non-coordinative anion and a counter cation; and so on. As the ingredient (c) are concretely mentioned alkylaluminum dichloride, dialkylaluminum chloride, silicon tetrachloride, tin tetrachloride, a complex of zinc chloride and a Lewis base such as alcohol or the like, a complex of magnesium chloride and a Lewis base such as alcohol or the like, benzyl chloride, t-butyl chloride, benzyl bromide, t-butyl bromide, triphenyl carbonium tetrakis(pentafluorophenyl)borate and so on. These ingredients (c) may be used alone or in a combination of two or more.

The polymerization initiator may be previously prepared by using the above-described ingredients (a), (b) and (c), and if necessary the same conjugated diene compound and/or aromatic vinyl compound as the monomers for the polymerization. Moreover, it may be used by supporting a part or whole of the ingredient (a) or (c) on an inactive solid. The amount of each ingredient used may be properly set, and the amount of the ingredient (a) is typically 0.001 to 0.5 mmol per 100g of the monomer. Also, a molar ratio of the ingredient (b) /ingredient (a) is preferably 5 to 1000, and a molar ratio of the ingredient (c) / ingredient (a) is preferably 0.5 to 10.

The polymerization temperature in the coordination polymerization is preferably within a range of -80 to 150°C, more preferably -20 to 120°C. As the solvent for the coordination polymerization may be used the hydrocarbon solvent inactive to the reaction mentioned in the anionic polymerization, and the concentrations of the monomers in the reaction solution are the same as in the case of the anionic polymerization. Moreover, the reaction pressure in the coordination polymerization is the same as in the case of the anionic polymerization, and the starting materials used in the reaction are also preferable to be ones from which the reaction obstructing substances such as water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, protonic compound and the like are substantially removed.

When the polymerization active site of the copolymer having the polymerization active site is modified with the modifying agent, as the modifying agent are preferably used a nitrogen-containing compound, a silicon-containing compound and a tin-containing compound. In this case, a nitrogen-containing functional group, a silicon-containing functional group or a tin-containing functional group can be introduced through a modification reaction.

The nitrogen-containing compound usable as the modifying agent is preferable to have a substituted or unsubstituted amino group, amide group, imino group, imidazole group, nitrile group or pyridyl group. The nitrogen-containing compound suitable for the modifying agent includes isocyanate compounds such as diphenylmethane diisocyanate, crude MDI, trimethylhexamethylene diisocyanate, tolylene diisocyanate and so on, 4-(dimethylamino)benzophenone, 4-(diethylamino)benzophenone, 4-dimethylaminobenzylidene aniline, 4-dimethylaminobenzylidene butylamine, dimethylimidazolidinone, N-methylpyrrolidone and the like.

Also, as the silicon-containing compound usable as the modifying agent are preferable a hydrocarbyloxy silane compound represented by the following formula (III): [wherein A is a monovalent group having at least one functional group selected from (thio)epoxy, (thio)isocyanate, (thio)ketone, (thio)aldehyde, imine, amide, isocyanuric acid triester, (thio)carboxylic acid hydrocarbylester, a metal salt of (thio)carboxylic acid, carboxylic anhydride, a halide of carboxylic acid, carbonic acid dihydrocarbylester, cyclic tertiary amine, acyclic tertiary amine, nitrile, pyridine, sulfide and multi-sulfide; R3 is a single bond or a bivalent inactive hydrocarbon group; R4 and R5 are independently a monovalent aliphatic hydrocarbon group having a carbon number of 1-20 or a monovalent aromatic hydrocarbon group having a carbon number of 6-18; n is an integer of 0-2; when plural OR5s are existent, they may be same or different; and active proton and onium salt are not included in the molecule] and a partial condensate thereof, as well as a hydrocarbyloxy silane compound represented by the following formula (IV):



        R6 p-Si-(OR7)4-p     (IV)



(wherein R6 and R7 are independently a monovalent aliphatic hydrocarbon group having a carbon number of 1-20 or a monovalent aromatic hydrocarbon group having a carbon number of 6-18; p is an integer of 0-2; when plural OR7s are existent, they may be same or different; and active proton and onium salt are not included in the molecule) and a partial condensate thereof.

In the functional group of A of the formula (III), imine includes ketimine, aldimine and amidine, and (thio)carboxylic acid ester includes an ester of an unsaturated carboxylic acid such as acrylate, methacrylate or the like, and acyclic tertiary amine includes N,N-disubstituted aromatic amine such as N,N-disubstituted aniline or the like, and cyclic tertiary amine can include (thio)ether as a part of a ring. As a metal of a metal salt of (thio)carboxylic acid can be mentioned an alkali metal, an alkaline earth metal, Al, Sn, Zn and the like.

As the bivalent inert hydrocarbon group in R3 is preferable an alkylene group having a carbon number of 1-20. The alkylene group may be straight, branched or cyclic, but the straight chain is particularly preferable. As the straight alkylene group are mentioned methylene group, ethylene group, trimethylene group, tetramethylene group, pentamethylene group, hexamethylene group, octamethylene group, decamethylene group, dodecamethylene group and the like.

As R4 and R5 are mentioned an alkyl group having a carbon number of 1-20, an alkenyl group having a carbon number of 2-18, an aryl group having a carbon number of 6-18, an aralkyl group having a carbon number of 7-18 and the like. In this case, the alkyl group and alkenyl group may be straight, branched or cyclic, and include, for example, methyl group, ethyl group, n-propyl group, isopropyl group, n-butyl group, isobutyl group, sec-butyl group, tert-butyl group, pentyl group, hexyl group, octyl group, decyl group, dodecyl group, cyclopentyl group, cyclohexyl group, vinyl group, propenyl group, allyl group, hexenyl group, octenyl group, cyclopentenyl group, cyclohexenyl group and the like. Also, the aryl group may have a substituent on the aromatic ring such as lower alkyl group or the like, and includes, for example, phenyl group, tolyl group, xylyl group, naphthyl group and the like. Further, the aralkyl group may have a substituent on the aromatic ring such as lower alkyl group or the like, and includes, for example, benzyl group, phenetyl group, naphthylmethyl group and the like.

In the formula (III), n is an integer of 0-2 and preferably 0. Moreover, it is required that active proton and onium salt are not included in the molecule.

In the hydrocarbyloxy silane compound represented by the formula (III), as the (thio)epoxy group-containing hydrocarbyloxysilane compound may be mentioned, for example, 2-glycidoxyethyl trimethoxysilane, 2-glycidoxyethyl triethoxysilane, (2-glycidoxyethyl)methyl dimethoxysilane, 3-glycidoxypropyl trimethoxysilane, 3-glycidoxypropyl triethoxysilane, (3-glycidoxypropyl)methyl dimethoxysilane, 2-(3,4-epoxycyclohexyl)ethyl trimethoxysilane, 2-(3,4-epoxycyclohexyl)ethyl triethoxysilane, 2-(3,4-epoxycyclohexyl)ethyl (methyl) dimethoxysilane and ones obtained by replacing the epoxy group in these compounds with a thioepoxy group. Among them, 3-glycidoxypropyl trimethoxysilane and 3-glycidoxypropyl triethoxysilane are particularly preferable.

As the imine group-containing hydrocarbyloxy silane compound may be mentioned N-(1,3-dimethylbutylidene)-3-(triethoxysilyl)-1-propaneamine, N-(1-methylethylidene)-3-(triethoxysilyl)-1-propaneamine, N-ethylidene-3-(triethoxysilyl)-1-propaneamine, N-(1-methylpropylidene)-3-(triethoxysilyl)-1-propaneamine, N-(4-N,N-dimethylaminobenzylidene)-3-(triethoxysilyl)-1-propaneamine, N-(cyclohexylidene)-3-(triethoxysilyl)-1-propaneamine as well as trimethoxysilyl compounds, methyldiethoxysilyl compounds, ethyldiethoxysilyl compounds, methyldimethoxysilyl compounds, ethyldimethoxysilyl compounds and the like corresponding to these triethoxysilyl compounds. Among them, N-(1-methylpropylidene)-3-(triethoxysilyl)-1-propaneamine and N-(1,3-dimethylbutylidene)-3-(triethoxysilyl)-1-propaneamine are particularly preferable.

As the imine(amidine) group-containing compound are mentioned 1-[3-(triethoxysilyl)propyl]-4,5-dihydroimidazole, 1-[3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl]-4,5-dihydroimidazole, N-(3-triethoxysilylpropyl)-4,5-dihydroimidazole, N-(3-isopropoxysilylpropyl)-4,5-dihydroimidazole, N-(3-methyldiethoxysilylpropyl)-4,5-dihydroimidazole and the like. Among them, N-(3-triethoxysilylpropyl)-4,5-dihydroimidazole is preferable.

As the carboxylic acid ester group-containing compound are mentioned 3-methacryloyloxypropyl triethoxysilane, 3-methacryloyloxypropyl trimethoxysilane, 3-methacryloyloxypropyl methyldiethoxysilane, 3-methacryloyloxypropyl triisopropoxysilane and the like. Among them, 3-methacryloyloxypropyl trimethoxysilane is preferable.

As the isocyanate group-containing compound are mentioned 3-isocyanatopropyl trimethoxysilane, 3-isocyanatopropyl triethoxysilane, 3-isocyanatopropyl methyldiethoxysilane, 3-isocyanatopropyl triisopropoxysialne and the like. Among them, 3-isocyanatopropyl triethoxysilane is preferable.

As the carboxylic anhydride-containing compound are mentioned 3-triethoxysilylpropyl succinic anhydride, 3-trimethoxysilylpropyl succinic anhydride, 3-methyldiethoxysilylpropyl succinic anhydride and the like. Among them, 3-triethoxysilylpropyl succinic anhydride is preferable.

As the cyclic tertiary amine group-containing hydrocarbyloxysilane compound are mentioned 3-(1-hexamethyleneimino)propyl(triethoxy) silane, 3-(1-hexamethyleneimino)propyl(trimethoxy) silane, (1-hexamethyleneimino)methyl(trimethoxy) silane, (1-hexamethyleneimino)methyl(triethoxy) silane, 2-(1-hexamethyleneimino)ethyl(triethoxy) silane, 2-(1-hexamethyleneimino)ethyl(trimethoxy) silane, 3-(1-pyrrolidynyl)propyl(triethoxy) silane, 3-(1-pyrrolidynyl)propyl(trimethoxy) silane, 3-(1-heptamethyleneimino)propyl(triethoxy) silane, 3-(1-dodecamethyleneimino)propyl(triethoxy) silane, 3-(1-hexamethyleneimino)propyl(diethoxy) methylsilane, 3-(1-hexamethyleneimino)propyl(diethoxy) ethylsilane, 3-[10-(triethoxysilyl)decyl]-4-oxazoline and the like. Among them, 3-(1-hexamethyleneimino)propyl(triethoxy) silane and (1-hexamethyleneimino)methyl(trimethoxy) silane are preferable.

As the acyclic tertiary amine group-containing hydrocarbyloxysilane compound are mentioned 3-dimethylaminopropyl(triethoxy) silane, 3-dimethylaminopropyl(trimethoxy) silane, 3-diethylaminopropyl(triethoxy) silane, 3-diethylaminopropyl(trimethoxy) silane, 2-dimethylaminoethyl(triethoxy) silane, 2-dimethylaminoethyl(trimethoxy) silane, 3-dimethylaminopropyl(diethoxy) methylsilane, 3-dibutylaminopropyl(triethoxy) silane and the like. Among them, 3-diethylaminopropyl(triethoxy) silane and 3-dimethylaminopropyl(triethoxy) silane are preferable.

As the other hydrocarbyloxysilane compound are mentioned 2-(trimethoxysilylethyl) pyridine, 2-(triethoxysilylethyl) pyridine, 2-cyanoethyltriethoxy silane and the like.

The hydrocarbyloxysilane compounds of the formula (III) may be used alone or in a combination of two or more. Also, a partial condensate of the hydrocarbyloxysilane compound may be used.

In the formula (IV), R6 and R7 are the same as mentioned on R4 and R5 of the formula (III), respectively.

As the hydrocarbyloxysilane compound represented by the formula (IV) are mentioned, for example, tetramethoxy silane, tetraethoxy silane, tetra-n-propoxy silane, tetraisopropoxy silane, tetra-n-butoxy silane, tetraisobutoxy silane, tetra-sec-butoxy silane, tetra-tert-butoxy silane, methyltrimethoxy silane, methyltriethoxy silane, methyltripropoxy silane, methyltriisopropoxy silane, ethyltrimethoxy silane, ethyltriethoxy silane, propyltriethoxy silane, butyltrimethoxy silane, phenyltrimethoxy silane, phenyltriethoxy silane, dimethyldimethoxy silane, methylphenyldimethoxy silane, vinyltrimethoxy silane, vinyltriethoxy silane, divinyldimethoxy silane, divinyldiethoxy silane and the like. Among them, tetraethoxy silane is particularly preferable.

The hydrocarbyloxysilane compounds of the formula (IV) may be used alone or in a combination of two or more. Also, a partial condensate of the hydrocarbyloxysialne compound may be used.

As the modifying agent is also preferable a coupling agent represented by the following formula (V):



        R8 aZXb     (V)



[wherein R8 is independently selected from the group consisting of an alkyl group having a carbon number of 1-20, a cycloalkyl group having a carbon number of 3-20, an aryl group having a carbon number of 6-20 and an aralkyl group having a carbon number of 7-20; Z is tin or silicon; X is independently chlorine or bromine; and a is 0-3 and b is 1-4 provided that a + b = 4]. The cold flow resistance of the copolymer (B) can be improved by modifying with the coupling agent of the formula (V). The copolymer (B) obtained by modifying with the coupling agent of the formula (V) has at least one of tin-carbon bond and silicon-carbon bond.

As R8 in the formula (V) are concretely mentioned methyl group, ethyl group, n-butyl group, neophyl group, cyclohexyl group, n-octyl group, 2-ethylhexyl group and the like. Moreover, as the coupling agent of the formula (V) are concretely preferable SnCl4, R8SnCl3, R8 2SnCl2, R8 3SnCl, SiCl4, R8SiCl3, R8 2SiCl2, R8 3SiCl and the like, and SnCl4 and SiCl4 are particularly preferable.

The modification reaction of the polymerization active site with the above modifying agent is preferable to be carried out by a solution reaction. In such a solution may be included monomers used in the polymerization. Also, the reaction system of the modification reaction is not particularly limited and may be a batch system or a continuous system. Further, the reaction temperature of the modification reaction is not particularly limited as long as the reaction proceeds, and the reaction temperature in the polymerization reaction may be adopted as it is. The amount of the modifying agent used is preferably within a range of 0.25 to 3.0 mol, more preferably 0.5 to 1.5 mol per 1 mol of the polymerization initiator used for producing the copolymer.

In the invention, the reaction solution containing the copolymer (B) may be dried to separate the copolymer (B) and then the resulting copolymer (B) may be compounded into the rubber component (A), or the reaction solution containing the copolymer (B) may be mixed with a rubber cement of the rubber component (A) at a solution state and then dried to obtain the mixture of the rubber component (A) and the copolymer (B).

The rubber composition according to the invention is preferable to further contain 30 to 90 parts by mass of a filler based on 100 parts by mass of the rubber component (A). When the amount of the filler compounded is less than 30 parts by mass, the fracture characteristics and wear resistance of the vulcanized rubber are insufficient, while when it exceeds 90 parts by mass, the workability tends to be deteriorated. As the carbon black are preferable FEF, SRF, HAF, ISAF and SAF grade carbon blacks, and HAF, ISAF and SAF grade carbon blacks are more preferable. On the other hand, as the silica are preferable precipitated silica, fumed silica and the like, and the precipitated silica is more preferable. These reinforcing fillers may be used alone or in a combination of two or more.

The rubber composition according to the invention may further contain a softening agent. As the softening agent are mentioned process oils such as a paraffinic oil, a naphthenic oil, an aromatic oil and so on. The aromatic oil is preferable in view of the fracture characteristics and wear resistance, and the naphthenic oil and paraffinic oil are preferable in view of the low heat buildup and low-temperature characteristics. The amount of the softening agent compounded is not particularly limited, but the softening agent is preferably compounded so that a total amount of the low-molecular weight copolymer (B) and the softening agent compounded can be 2 to 80 parts by mass based on 100 parts by mass of the rubber component (A). When the total amount of the low-molecular weight copolymer (B) and the softening agent compounded exceeds 80 parts by mass, the fracture characteristics of the vulcanized rubber tend to be deteriorated.

Into the rubber composition of the invention can be properly compounded additives usually used in the rubber industry such as an antioxidant, a silane coupling agent, a vulcanization accelerator, a vulcanization accelerating aid, a vulcanizing agent and the like within a scope of not damaging the object of the invention in addition to the above rubber component (A), the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B), the filler and the softening agent. As these additives can be preferably used commercially available ones. The rubber composition can be produced by compounding the rubber component (A) with the low-molecular weight copolymer (B), and, if necessary, the properly selected additives and milling, warming, extruding and so on.

The pneumatic tire according to the invention is characterized by using the above rubber composition in at least the ground-contacting part of the tread portion. The tire using the rubber composition in at least the ground-contacting part of the tread portion is excellent in the low fuel consumption and steering stability. The pneumatic tire according to the invention is not particularly limited as long as the above rubber composition is used in at least the ground-contacting part of the tread portion, and can be produced by the usual method. Moreover, as a gas filled into the tire can be used usual air or air having a regulated partial oxygen pressure but also inert gases such as nitrogen, argon, helium and so on.

<EXAMPLES>

The following examples are given in illustration of the invention and are not intended as limitations thereof.

<Production Examples 1-4 of Copolymers (B)>

To a pressure glass vessel of 800 mL dried and purged with nitrogen are added 300 g of cyclohexane, 40 g of 1,3-butadiene, 13 g of styrene and 0.90 mmol of ditetrahydrofuryl propane, and further added 0.90 mmol of n-butyl lithium (n-BuLi), and then polymerization reaction is conducted at 50°C for 2 hours. The conversion is approximately 100%. Then, an amount shown in Table 1 of a modifying agent shown in Table 1 is immediately added to the polymerization system and further modifying reaction is conducted at 50°C for 30 minutes. Thereafter, 0.5 mL of a solution of 2,6-di-t-butyl-p-cresol (BHT) in isopropanol (BHT concentration: 5% by mass) is added to the polymerization system to stop the polymerization reaction and then dried according to a usual manner to obtain a copolymer (B-1)-(B-4).

<Production Method of Copolymer (B-5)>

To a pressure glass vessel of 800 mL dried and purged with nitrogen are added 300 g of cyclohexane, 40 g of 1,3-butadiene, 13 g of styrene and 0.90 mmol of ditetrahydrofuryl propane, and further added 0.90 mmol of n-butyl lithium (n-BuLi), and then polymerization reaction is conducted at 50°C for 2 hours. The conversion is approximately 100%. Thereafter, 0.5 mL of a solution of 2,6-di-t-butyl-p-cresol (BHT) in isopropanol (BHT concentration: 5% by mass) is added to the polymerization system to stop the polymerization reaction and then dried according to a usual manner to obtain a copolymer (B-5).

<Production Methods of Copolymers (B-6) and (B-8)-(B-13)>

To a pressure glass vessel of 800 mL dried and purged with nitrogen are added 300 g of cyclohexane, 40 g of 1,3-butadiene, 13 g of styrene and 0.90 mmol of ditetrahydrofuryl propane, and further added 0.90 mmol of n-butyl lithium (n-BuLi), and then polymerization reaction is conducted at 50°C for 2 hours. The conversion is approximately 100%. Then, an amount shown in Table 2 of a modifying agent shown in Table 2 is immediately added to the polymerization system and further modifying reaction is conducted at 50°C for 30 minutes. Thereafter, 0.5 mL of a solution of 2,6-di-t-butyl-p-cresol (BHT) in isopropanol (BHT concentration: 5% by mass) is added to the polymerization system to stop the polymerization reaction and then dried according to a usual manner to obtain a copolymer (B-6), (B-8), (B-9), (B-10), (B-11), (B-12) or (B-13).

<Production Method of Copolymer (B-7)>

A copolymer (B-7) is obtained in the same manner as in the copolymer (B-5) except that 0.90 mmol of lithium hexamethylene imide prepared in situ [HMI-Li; a molar ratio of hexamethylene imine (HMI) / lithium (Li) = 0.9] in terms of a lithium equivalent is used as the polymerization initiator instead of n-butyl lithium (n-BuLi).

<Production Methods of Copolymers (B-14)-(B-15)>

Copolymers (B-14)-(B-15) are obtained in the same manner as in the copolymers (B-6) and (B-8)-(B-13) except that 0.90 mmol of lithium hexamethylene imide prepared in situ [HMI-Li; a molar ratio of hexamethylene imine (HMI) / lithium (Li) = 0.9] in terms of a lithium equivalent is used as the polymerization initiator instead of n-butyl lithium (n-BuLi).

The weight average molecular weight (Mw), microstructure and bound styrene content of the copolymers (B-1)-(B-15) produced as described above are measured according to the following methods. Results are shown in Tables 1 and 2.

(1) Weight average molecular weight (Mw)

The weight average molecular weight (Mw) of each polymer as converted to polystyrene are measured through a gel permeation chromatography [GPC: HLC-8020 manufactured by TOSOH, column: GMH-XL (two series columns) manufactured by TOSOH, detector: differential refractometer (RI)] as a standard of monodisperse polystyrene.

(2) Microstructure and Bound styrene content

The microstructure of the polymer is determined by an infrared method (Morello method) and the bound styrene content of the polymer is determined from an integral ratio of 1H-NMR spectrum.

<u>Table 1</u> Copolymer (B-1) Copolymer (B-2) Copolymer (B-3) Copolymer (B-4) Copolymer (B-5) Modifying agent Kind SnCl4 SiCl4 TEOS *1 S340 *2 not modified Used amount (mmol) 0.20 0.20 0.90 0.90 Bound styrene content (mass%) 25 25 25 25 25 Vinyl bond content (%) 65 65 65 65 65 Weight average molecular weight (Mw) 243,000 260,000 134,000 142,000 80,000 *1 Tetraethoxy silane.

*2 N-(1,3-dimethylbutylidene)-3-(triethoxysilyl)-1-propaneamine.

<u>Table 2</u> Copolymer (B-5) Copolymer (B-6) Copolymer (B-7) Copolymer (B-8) Copolymer (B-9) Copolymer (B-10) Copolymer (B-11) Copolymer (B-12) Copolymer (B-13) Copolymer (B-14) Copolymer (B-15) Polymerization initiator Kind n-BuLi n-BuLi HMI-Li n-BuLi n-BuLi n-BuLi n-BuLi n-BuLi n-BuLi HMI-Li HMI-Li Used amount (mmol) 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 Modifying agent Kind none TTC *3 none MDI *4 DEAB *5 DMI *6 NMP *7 DMABA *8 DMABB *9 DMI *6 MDI *4 Used amount (mmol) - 0.9 - 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 Bound styrene content (mass%) 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 25 Vinyl bond content (%) 65 65 65 65 65 65 65 65 65 65 65 Weight average molecular weight (Mw) 8 × 104 24 × 104 8 × 104 16 × 104 8 × 104 8 × 104 8 × 104 8 × 104 8 × 104 8 × 104 8 × 104 Glass transition point (°C) -25 -25 -25 -25 -25 -25 -25 -25 -25 -25 -25 *3 Tin tetrachloride.

*4 Crude MDI, MR400 manufactured by Nippon Polyurethane Industry Co., Ltd.

*5 N,N'-diethylamino benzophenone.

*6 Dimethylimidazolidinone.

*7 N-methylpyrrolidone.

*8 4-dimethylaminobenzylidene aniline.

*9 4-dimethylaminobenzylidene butylamine.

Then, a rubber composition having a compounding recipe as shown in Table 3 or 4 is prepared by using the copolymers (B-1)-(B-15) or aromatic oil, and further vulcanized at 160°C for 15 minutes to obtain a vulcanized rubber, and the storage modulus (G') and loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the thus vulcanized rubber are measured according to the following methods. Results are shown in Tables 5-8.

(3) Storage modulus (G') and Loss tangent (tan &dgr;)

The storage modulus (G') and loss tangent (tan &dgr;) are measured at a temperature of 50°C, a frequency of 15 Hz and a strain of 5% by using a viscoelasticity measuring device manufactured by RHEOMETRICS Corporation, and are shown by an index on the basis that the storage modulus (G') and loss tangent (tan &dgr;) of the rubber composition using the aromatic oil in each Table (i.e., the rubber composition of Comparative Example 1 in Table 5, the rubber composition of Comparative Example 3 in Table 6, the rubber composition of Comparative Example 5 in Table 7 and the rubber composition of Comparative Example 7 in Table 8) are respectively 100. As to the storage modulus (G'), the larger the index value, the higher the storage modulus. On the other hand, as to the loss tangent (tan &dgr;), the smaller the index value, the more excellent the low heat buildup.

<u>Table 3</u> (parts by mass) Formulation A SBR *10 100 Carbon black *11 27 Silica *12 27 Silane coupling agent *13 2.5 Aromatic oil or Copolymer (B) *14 15 Stearic acid 2 Antioxidant 6C *15 1 Zinc white 3 Vulcanization accelerator DPG *16 0.8 Vulcanization accelerator DM *17 1 Vulcanization accelerator NS *18 1 Sulfur 1.5 *10 "#1500" manufactured by JSR Corporation or S-SBR synthesized according to the following method. The kind of SBR used is shown in Tables 5-6.

(Synthesis Method of S-SBR)

A cyclohexane solution of butadiene (16%) and a cyclohexane solution of styrene (21 %) are charged into a pressure glass vessel of 800 mL dried and purged with nitrogen so as to be 40 g of butadiene monomer and 10g of styrene monomer, and 0.12 mmol of 2,2-ditetrahydrofuryl propane is charged and 0.24 mmol of n-butyl lithium (BuLi) is added thereto, and then polymerization is conducted in a warmed water bath at 50°C for 1.5 hours. The conversion is approximately 100%. Thereafter, 0.5 mL of a solution containing 5% by weight of 2,6-di-t-butyl-p-cresol (BHT) in isopropanol is added to the polymerization system to stop the reaction. Then, it is dried according to a usual manner to obtain S-SBR. The resulting S-SBR has a bound styrene content of 25% by mass and a vinyl bond content of 60%.

  • *11 Seast KH (trade mark, N339) manufactured by Tokai Carbon Co., Ltd.
  • *12 Nipsil AQ (trade mark) manufactured by Nippon Silica Industrial Co., Ltd.
  • * 13 Si 69 (trade mark) manufactured by Degussa Corporation, bis(3-triethoxysilylpropyl) tetrasulfide.
  • *14 Aromatic oil or the kind of the copolymers (B-1)-(B-5) used is shown in Tables 5-6.
  • *15 N-(1,3-dimethylbutyl)-N'-phenyl-p-phenylenediamine.
  • *16 Diphenyl guanidine.
  • *17 Dibenzothiazyl disulfide.
  • *18 N-t-butyl-2-benzothiazyl sulfenamide.

<u>Table 4</u> (parts by mass) Formulation B Formulation C SBR *19 100 100 Carbon black *20 70 - Silica *12 - 70 Aromatic oil or Liquid SBR *21 30 30 Stearic acid 2 2 Antioxidant * 15 1 1 Silane coupling agent *13 - 7 Zinc white 2.5 2.5 Vulcanization accelerator DM *17 0.5 1 Vulcanization accelerator DPG *16 0.3 1 Vulcanization accelerator NS *18 0.5 1 Sulfur 1.5 1.5 *12, *13, *15, *16, *17 and *18 are the same meaning as in Table 3.

*19 "#1500" manufactured by JSR Corporation.

*20 ISAF, a nitrogen absorption specific surface area (N2SA) = 111 m2/g.

*21 Aromatic oil or the kind of the liquid SBR [copolymers (B-5)-(B-15)] used is shown in Tables 7-8.

<u>Table 5</u> The compounding recipe of the rubber composition is the formulation A. "#1500" manufactured by JSR Corporation is used as SBR (*10). Comparative Example 1 Comparative Example 2 Example 1 Example 2 Example 3 Example 4 Aromatic oil or the kind of the copolymer (B) used Aromatic oil Aromatic oil Copolymer (B-5) Copolymer (B-1) Copolymer (B-2) Copolymer (B-3) Copolymer (B-4) Storage modulus (G) [index] 100 115 130 128 125 122 Loss tangent (tan &dgr;) [index] 100 93 88 90 83 80

<u>Table 6</u> The compounding recipe of the rubber composition is the formulation A. The synthesized S-SBR is used as SBR (*10). Comparative Examples 3 Comparative Example 4 Example 5 Example 6 Example 7 Example 8 Aromatic oil or the kind of the copolymer (B) used Aromatic oil Copolymer (B-5) Copolymer (B-1) Copolymer (B-2) Copolymer (B-3) Copolymer (B-4) Storage modulus (G) [index] 100 112 127 125 121 120 Loss tangent (tan &dgr;)[index] 100 92 85 88 80 78

As seen from Tables 5 and 6, the rubber compositions in Examples using the copolymers (B-1)-(B-4) having at least one functional group instead of the aromatic oil have a highly improved storage modulus (G') and a considerably lowered loss tangent (tan &dgr;) as compared with the rubber compositions in Comparative Examples 1 and 3 using the aromatic oil. Also, the rubber compositions in Comparative Examples 2 and 4 using the unmodified copolymer (B-5) have a higher storage modulus (G') and a lower loss tangent (tan &dgr;) than the rubber compositions in Comparative Examples 1 and 3 using the aromatic oil, but have a lower storage modulus (G') and a higher loss tangent (tan &dgr;) than the rubber compositions in Examples.

<u>Table 7</u> The compounding recipe of the rubber composition is the formulation B (containing carbon black). Aromatic oil or the kind of the copolymer (B) used Storage modulus (G') [index] Loss tangent (tan &dgr;) [index] Comparative Example 5 Aromatic oil 100 100 Comparative Example 6 Copolymer (B-5) 120 93 Example 9 Copolymer (B-6) 135 86 Example 10 Copolymer (B-7) 137 88 Example 11 Copolymer (B-8) 136 84 Example 12 Copolymer (B-9) 134 88 Example 13 Copolymer (B-10) 140 82 Example 14 Copolymer (B-11) 136 89 Example 15 Copolymer (B-12) 133 87 Example 16 Copolymer (B-13) 130 90 Example 17 Copolymer (B-14) 140 78 Example 18 Copolymer (B-15) 139 80

<u>Table 8</u> The compounding recipe of the rubber composition is the formulation C (containing silica). Aromatic oil or the kind of the copolymer (B) used Storage modulus (G') [index] Loss tangent (tan &dgr;) [index] Comparative Example 7 Aromatic oil 100 100 Comparative Example 8 Copolymer (B-5) 112 94 Example 19 Copolymer (B-6) 113 94 Example 20 Copolymer (B-7) 118 90 Example 21 Copolymer (B-8) 117 91 Example 22 Copolymer (B-9) 120 87 Example 23 Copolymer (B-10) 122 85 Example 24 Copolymer (B-11) 120 89 Example 25 Copolymer (B-12) 116 90 Example 26 Copolymer (B-13) 115 91 Example 27 Copolymer (B-14) 125 87 Example 28 Copolymer (B-15) 123 86

As seen from Tables 7 and 8, the rubber compositions in Examples 10-18 and 20-28 using the copolymers (B-7)-(B-15) having one or more nitrogen-containing functional group instead of the aromatic oil have a highly improved storage modulus (G') and a considerably lowered loss tangent (tan &dgr;) as compared with the rubber compositions in Comparative Examples 5 and 7 using the aromatic oil.

Also, the rubber compositions in Comparative Examples 6 and 8 using the unmodified copolymer (B-5) have a higher storage modulus (G') and a lower loss tangent (tan &dgr;) than the rubber compositions in Comparative Examples 5 and 7 using the aromatic oil, but have a lower storage modulus (G') and a higher loss tangent (tan &dgr;) than the rubber compositions in Examples.

Moreover, the rubber compositions in Examples 9 and 19 using the copolymer (B-6) obtained by modifying with tin tetrachloride have a low loss tangent (tan &dgr;) in the formulation B using the carbon black as a filler, but have a high loss tangent (tan &dgr;) in the formulation C using the silica as a filler and have a lower storage modulus (G') and a higher loss tangent (tan &dgr;) than the rubber compositions in Examples 10-18 and 20-28.


Anspruch[en]
A rubber composition comprising 2 to 60 parts by mass of a low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) having an aromatic vinyl compound content of 5 to 80% by mass, a vinyl bond content in a conjugated diene compound portion of 5 to 80% by mass, a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography and converted to polystyrene of 5,000 to 500,000 and at least one functional group based on 100 parts by mass of a rubber component (A) composed of at least one of natural rubber and synthetic diene-based rubbers. A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is formed through a modification with a tin-containing compound, a silicon-containing compound or a nitrogen-containing compound. A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein the functional group of the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is a tin-containing functional group, a silicon-containing functional group or a nitrogen-containing functional group. A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein not less than 50% by mass of the rubber component (A) is styrene-butadiene copolymer rubber. A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein the aromatic vinyl compound in the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is styrene. A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein the conjugated diene compound in the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is 1,3-butadiene. A rubber composition according to claim 1, which further contains 30 to 90 parts by mass of a filler based on 100 parts by mass of the rubber component (A). A rubber composition according to claim 7, wherein the filler is carbon black and/or silica. A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein a total amount of the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) and a softening agent compounded is 2 to 80 parts by mass based on 100 parts by mass of the rubber component (A). A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) has a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography and converted to polystyrene of 20,000 to 400,000. A rubber composition according to claim 10, wherein the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) has a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography and converted to polystyrene of 50,000 to 400,000. A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) has a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography before introduced with the functional group and converted to polystyrene of 5,000 to 200,000. A rubber composition according to claim 12, wherein the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) has a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography before introduced with the functional group and converted to polystyrene of 20,000 to 150,000. A rubber composition according to claim 13, wherein the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) has a weight average molecular weight as measured through a gel permeation chromatography before introduced with the functional group and converted to polystyrene of 50,000 to 150,000. A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) has a glass transition point (Tg) of not higher than 0°C. A rubber composition according to claim 1, wherein the low-molecular weight aromatic vinyl compound-conjugated diene compound copolymer (B) is formed through a polymerization using an organic alkaline metal compound or a rare-earth metal compound. A rubber composition according to claim 16, wherein the organic alkaline metal compound is an alkyllithium. A rubber composition according to claim 3, wherein the nitrogen-containing functional group is a substituted or unsubstituted amino group, amide group, imino group, imidazole group, nitrile group or pyridyl group. A rubber composition according to claim 18, wherein the nitrogen-containing functional group is selected from the group consisting of a substituted amino group represented by the following formula (I): [wherein R1 is independently an alkyl group having a carbon number of 1-12, a cycloalkyl group or an aralkyl group] and a cyclic amino group represented by the following formula (II): [wherein R2 is an alkylene group having 3-16 methylene groups, a substituted alkylene group, an oxyalkylene group or a N-alkylamino-alkylene group]. A pneumatic tire characterized by using a rubber composition as claimed in any one of claims 1-19 in at least a ground-contacting part of a tread portion.






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B Arbeitsverfahren; Transportieren
C Chemie; Hüttenwesen
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E Bauwesen; Erdbohren; Bergbau
F Maschinenbau; Beleuchtung; Heizung; Waffen; Sprengen
G Physik
H Elektrotechnik

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