Goodyear has begun using a next-generation silica to increase the fuel-efficiency of its tyres. This new silica will be first used in its new EfficientGrip SUV tyre which is being launched this month in Latin American markets.

For more than a decade, Goodyear researchers worked with PPG Industries to examine the effects of chemically-treated silica on tyre performance. The goal was to further lessen rolling resistance without a detrimental effect on traction in wet conditions.  In Goodyear’s new EfficientGrip SUV tyre, 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.

Silica is used as a reinforcing agent in tyre tread compounds. Compared to carbon black, a traditional reinforcing agent for tyres, silica reduces rolling resistance. Lower rolling resistance, in turn, improves a car’s fuel economy.

“Our customers around the world are demanding more fuel-efficient tyres, 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 tyre design and construction engineers, they derived an integrated solution that optimizes performance. This new silica plays a critical role in satisfying our customers’ needs.”

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 tyre production process and lessen emissions.

According to PPG Industries, when substituted for traditional silica-silane in tyre compounds, Agilon performance silica can improve vehicle fuel efficiency, tyre traction and treadwear by as much as 5% to 10%.

In its efforts to create more environmentally-friendly tyres, 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 tyres,” said Mr. Zanzig.

Availability of the tyre containing the silica in other regions has not been announced yet.

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