From rubber to rice: Goodyear launches tire made from 70% sustainable materials

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The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company today unveiled a demo tire made from 70% sustainable materials, including soybean oil, rice husks and plastic recycled from old bottles.

The innovation saw new tires made from 13 ingredients all of which have significant durability advantages over conventional tires, such as carbon black captured from industrial processes and silica produced from ash. rice husk, a by-product of rice processing that is often thrown away and landfilled. .

Chris Helsel, senior vice president of global operations and chief technology officer at Goodyear, said the new demo tire was a major step in the company’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint.

“We have set ourselves an ambitious goal in 2020 to create a tire made 100% from sustainable materials in 10 years, and our scientists and engineers have made great strides towards this goal,” he said. “This is an exciting achievement that demonstrates our commitment to increasing the use of sustainable materials in our tires. “

The tire industry has traditionally relied on a range of high-impact raw materials and energy-intensive production processes, while producing end products that are difficult to recycle. But big companies are fighting to develop low impact tires and increase recycling rates across the industry.

The use of recycled plastic fibers and silica produced from rice hull ash should lead to reduced waste and lower environmental impacts.

Goodyear – which had planned to unveil its new tire at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week before COVID concerns forced the online launch – said the new tire is expected to result in a significantly smaller environmental footprint.

For example, carbon black included in tires for reinforcing compounds has traditionally been made by burning various types of petroleum products. But Goodyear’s new tire features three carbon blacks produced from methane, carbon dioxide and vegetable oil. “Initial life cycle assessments demonstrate either reduced carbon emissions compared to current methods of producing carbon black, or the use of bio-based or waste feedstock sources,” the company said.

The news comes just days after the U.S. Department of Energy approved a $ 1 billion loan to Monolith, one of the companies Goodyear is partnering with to source carbon black produced using carbon black. renewable electricity to split natural gas into hydrogen gas and carbon black.

Likewise, the use of soybean oil in new tires has been described as a “significant innovation” that helps keep a tire’s rubber compound flexible in changing temperatures.

Some environmental activists have raised concerns about the environmental impact of soaring global demand for soybeans, but Goodyear insisted that although nearly 100 percent of soy protein is used in food or feed, a significant surplus of oil remains available for use in industrial applications.

Finally, the use of recycled plastic fibers and silica produced from rice hull ash should lead to reduced waste and lower environmental impacts.

The announcement comes on the same day that Goodyear also confirmed that it has partnered with autonomous vehicle specialist Starship to develop and test a custom-designed non-pneumatic (airless) (NPT) tire to support its robots. delivery.

The tire industry has traditionally relied on a range of high-impact raw materials and energy-intensive production processes, while resulting in end products that are difficult to recycle.

Starship Technologies, in which Goodyear Ventures is an investor, builds and operates a network of more than 1,000 autonomous last mile robots that transport and deliver packages, groceries and food directly to customers.

Goodyear today revealed that it has developed an airless tire specifically designed to extend tire life and reduce maintenance activities for Starship’s zero-emission delivery fleet.

The companies have entered a field test phase of the project at Bowling Green State University to assess vehicle and tire dependencies. Early data from on-vehicle tire tests showed positive results for tread wear, braking and vibration damping, the companies said.

“We are excited to extend our unique airless tire architectures to new forms of mobility,” said Michael Rachita, Goodyear’s senior program director for non-pneumatic tires. “The micro delivery space presents a different set of tire needs, and our NPT technology is ideal for meeting those needs to enable a maintenance-free and long-lasting experience. “

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