The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has begun using a next-generation silica to increase the fuel-efficiency of its tires. This new silica will be first used in the Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV tire, which is being launched this month in Latin American markets. Tires containing the silica also will be introduced in other regions within the next year.
For more than a decade, Goodyear researchers worked with PPG Industries to examine the effects of chemically treated silica on tire performance. The goal was to further improve rolling resistance without having a detrimental effect on traction in wet conditions. In Goodyear's new EfficientGrip SUV tire, this next generation silica was used in a new tread compound and a new tread pattern to provide both improved rolling resistance and improved wet traction.
"Our customers around the world are demanding more fuel-efficient tires, but they want us to minimize the typical trade-offs," said David Zanzig, director of Global Materials Science for Goodyear. "Our materials scientists worked in cross-functional teams and, together with tire design and construction engineers, they derived an integrated solution that optimizes performance. This new silica plays a critical role in satisfying our customers' needs."
Silica is used as a reinforcing agent in tire tread compounds. Compared to carbon black, a traditional reinforcing agent for tires, silica reduces rolling resistance. Lower rolling resistance, in turn, improves a car's fuel economy.
In addition, this new silica – marketed by PPG Industries as AGILON® performance silica – has been shown to have processing advantages that also benefit the environment. Since it is easier to mix into compounds, factories can consume less energy in the tire production process and lessen emissions.
In its efforts to create more environmentally friendly tires, Goodyear has been exploring its options with silica. Last year, Goodyear reached supply agreements to purchase silica derived from the ash left behind after rice husks are incinerated.
"While no one source of these new sources of silica are able to fulfill our total demand, they each play an important part in our materials line-up as we strive to create more environmentally friendly tires," said Zanzig.
Goodyear is one of the world's largest tire companies. It employs approximately 67,000 people and manufactures its products in 50 facilities in 22 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate.