MAASTRICHT, Netherlands—The new official soccer ball of the 2018 World Cup contains the bio-based EPDM rubber Keltan Eco from Arlanxeo, a supplier of synthetic rubber.
The EPDM Keltan Eco 6950 is the rubber basis for a sponge rubber layer directly underneath the Telstar 18 ball's outer cover, according to an Arlanxeo release. It serves as a moldable cushion for the ball and supports bounce characteristics during games.
Materials used in this layer must meet strict requirements in properties such as density, hardness and weight, and must also demonstrate good processability. The most important characteristic is the elasticity and resilience of the layer, Arlanxeo said.
Ecological sustainability was a fundamental criterion in the selection of products for the World Cup soccer ball, according to Stefan Bichler, project manager of football operations at Adidas A.G.
"We wanted to create the new soccer ball using high-tech materials that have impressive performance characteristics and are also sustainable," Bichler said.
With the full Keltan Eco portfolio, Arlanxeo has developed EPDM products that save resources, reduce use of fossil fuel-based products and also have a lower carbon footprint, said Chretien Rooijakkers, head of global marketing for the Arlanxeo Keltan business line.
Keltan Eco is manufactured using bio-based ethylene extracted from sugarcane. Depending on the ethylene content of each rubber grade, the proportion of bio-based material ranges between 50 and 70 percent.
Keltan Eco 6950, the type used by Adidas, is characterized by its amorphous structure and high crosslinking density. This leads to good low-temperature properties and meets the requirements for elasticity and resilience, Arlanxeo said.
There are currently six different grades of Keltan Eco rubber on the market, which can be used for sporting goods or automotive industry applications.