Toward a greener future: Goodyear R&D innovations help build a sustainable future
The European Commission has awarded Goodyear a major research and development grant to support Goodyear Research & Development. The grant is part of the European Union's LIFE-Environment program (LIFE06 ENV/L/000118). For this project Goodyear is working in close co-operation with two research partners: the Italian research company Novamont and the German car maker BMW.
Geneva, Switzerland, March 4th, 2008 – Innovation, the continuous flow of creative new ideas, products and materials, has been at the very core of Goodyear's activities for more than 100 years. One of Goodyear's ongoing research and development projects is an initiative to develop an ultra low rolling resistance tyre with environmentally friendly resources.
The European Commission has awarded Goodyear a major research and development grant to support this innovative initiative. The grant is part of the European Union's LIFE-Environment program. For this project Goodyear is working in close co-operation with two research partners: the Italian research company Novamont and the German car maker BMW.
"This project is one of Goodyear's initiatives to develop products with reduced environmental impact, without compromising on driver safety", said Joe Zekoski, Vice President Global Product Development & Technical Center Operations for Goodyear. "One of the project's main tasks is to develop a new ‘bio' filler as an alternative to traditional fillers used in tyres. This new filler, which will be made from renewable resources like corn starch, may have a major environmental impact and lead to a reduction of CO2 emissions during its production process", said Zekoski.
The second task of the project consists of an in-depth analysis of a tyre's structure, aimed at reducing energy loss while the vehicle is in motion. "This project has the potential to lead us to tyres with lower rolling resistance, better durability and shorter braking distances," said Zekoski.
Together with Goodyear, the Italian research company, Novamont, will focus on the development of a new 'bio' filler and assess its dispersion capabilities in tire formulations. In the scientific world Novamont is recognised as a pioneer in the development of products deriving from renewable raw materials of agricultural origin like starch.
Goodyear, together with its development partner BMW, will develop the tire formulations and test the prototype tyres and the optimized tire structure. "BMW's expertise in the tyre-vehicle interaction and the related testing and safety requirements is an important asset for the project's success", said Zekoski.
Picture: Philip Owen, Head of the LIFE Unit, presents a LIFE+ information session at Green Week 2007 in Brussels.
From carbon-black to corn
Today, carbon black and silica are the main reinforcing components used in the tyre rubber compounds. Both carbon black and silica production processes require non renewable resources such as crude oil and generate CO2 emissions. Further evolution in bio-tire technology anticipates the partial replacement of carbon black and silica by a new generation of bio filler. These research activities are currently being performed by Goodyear and its research partner Novamont.
The research project follows the objective of partly replacing the non renewable rubber reinforcing components with bio-polymeric fillers based on renewable resources and at the same time achieving a substantial reduction (up to 30 %) of the tyre's rolling resistance, thus reducing CO2 emission and fuel consumption.
The partial replacement of silica and carbon black (today in tread formulation) by the second generation bio-filler are promising approaches for the reduction of a tyre's CO2 impact. First results show that the production process of the new bio-filler has a more positive CO2 balance: for each kilogram of bio-filler manufactured, 0,62 kg of CO2 is saved. The total gain for 20% weight silica replacement brings a CO2 reduction of up to 8,2 g/km in a tyre with 30% rolling resistance reduction.
Less rolling resistance means less fuel consumption
In addition to the development of new materials, Goodyear is also investigating the structure-material interaction and is optimizing the design and geometry of the tread pattern and tire anchoring. The combination of this material and structure research represents the optimum approach for the development of an innovative tire design, suitable for achieving a reduction of 30% or more of the rolling resistance.
The ultimate goal: to develop a more environmentally friendly tyre with specific consumer benefits such as less fuel consumption, better durability and shorter braking distances, without compromising any of the other tire performance and safety parameters such as dry and wet grip, aquaplaning resistance or the tire's handling performance.
The Financial Instrument for the Environment LIFE
Launched in 1992, LIFE (The Financial Instrument for the Environment) is an important part of the European Community environment policy. LIFE-Environment's specific objective is to contribute to the development of innovative techniques and methods by co-financing demonstration projects. The Commission said that these projects would demonstrate new methods and techniques for dealing with a wide diversity of Europe's environmental problems.