Synthetic Turf: Making a Growing Trend Safer !
Chris Twigg, DSM Elastomers, Global R&D
Synthetic grass, particularly for soccer pitches is becoming increasingly popular with sporting institutions. Its value lies in low maintenance pitches that offer consistently good playability over a greatly enhanced lifecycle. The industry is growing at a rate of about 18% per annum in Europe. Synthetic grass is a multilayer system comprizing a carpet, synthetic grass filaments, various combinations of natural sands and an elastomeric infill. Currently about 95% of the infill used in this industry is recycled granulated tyres, largely because it is cheap when compared to other elastomeric alternatives. It is estimated that currently around 1500 new or refurbished soccer fields are installed per annum in Western Europe alone, requiring around 150kT of infill materials. DSM Elastomers have identified an opportunity and a need within the industry to develop an infill material that is environmentally safe and that will pose no health risks to the athletes. As the quality of the rubber infill has a decisive influence on the playing characteristics of the artificial turf, DSM Elastomers further strive to offer a material that emulates as close as possible the