A 10% increase in tyre tread life can be squeezed out of its tyres by using soybean oil in the manufacturing process, according to Goodyear researchers at the company’s Innovation Centre in the USA.
And the company says the new process will cut use of oil by seven million gallons a year in manufacturing – a development that could help consumers and the environment by reducing the amount of petroleum-based oil used in tires, while at the same time, extending tread life.
The research findings were well received on the New York Stock Exchange – where Goodyear shares are traded – with prices rising in early trading soon after the company announcement.
In addition, testing at Goodyear’s tire plant in Lawton, Oklahoma, showed improved mixing capabilities in the manufacturing process. The company found that rubber compounds made with soybean oil blend more easily with the silica used in building tires. This can improve plant efficiency and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear’s chief technical officer, said;”We are committed to caring for the environment and communities, and use of soybean oil is proving to be another way to accomplish this goal,. Consumers benefit through improved tread life, Goodyear gains with increased efficiency and energy savings and we all win whenever there is a positive impact on the environment.”
Prototype tires built in Lawton will be tested at Goodyear’s Proving Grounds in San Angelo, Texas in the coming months. If indicators remain positive, Goodyear expects consumers will be able to purchase tires made with soybean oil as early as 2015. Goodyear will display a tire made with soybean oil on August 6-7 at the Ford Motor Company’s research center in Dearborn, Michigan.
The use of soybean oil is just one of the initiatives Goodyear is currently undertaking to increase its use of renewable raw materials. Goodyear and DuPont Industrial Biosciences continue to work together to develop BioIsoprene, a revolutionary bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene. BioIsoprene can be used for the production of synthetic rubber—which in turn is an alternative for natural rubber—and other elastomers. The development of BioIsoprene will help further reduce the tire and rubber industry’s dependence on petroleum-derived products.
Another effort underway in Goodyear to save non-renewable fossil fuel is Goodyear’s Air Maintenance Technology (AMT). AMT will help enable tires to remain inflated at the optimum pressure – without the need for any external pumps or electronics. All components of the AMT system will be fully contained within the tire. The potential benefits of such a system include improved fuel economy, reduced emissions, longer tire life, enhanced safety and performance.