Rhodia/Dow Corning Silica for NR Undergoing European Road Tests
When Tyres & Accessories met with representatives of Rhodia and Dow Corning at Tire Technology Expo 2008, they revealed that the fruit of their alliance to develop a silica/silane for use with natural rubber has already reached an advanced stage. The details of the project will be reported by T&A at length at a later date, however Rhodia’s global business director Peter Browning confirmed that two customers are already, somewhere in Europe, trialling truck tyres made with the silica/silane in a natural rubber compound.
Due to its high content in commercial vehicle tyres, natural rubber represents about sixty per cent of total tyre rubber usage, therefore the introduction of high loadings of silica/silane in natural rubber formulations offers significant potential for improving tyre performance. The two companies say their target is to validate the benefits of silica/silane in natural rubber compounds where its use in truck tyre tread may well lead to enhanced performance in terms of rolling resistance, hence bringing significant fuel savings and CO2 reduction.
“According to the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers Truck Future Report (The Truck Industry’s Green Challenge: headwind or competitive edge?), fuel economy is the number one purchasing criteria of the road transportation industry,” explains Eric Noyrez, president of Rhodia Silcea and director of the company’s Silica Business Unit. “This demonstrates the strong and urgent market need for diverse technological innovation to help reduce fuel consumption.”
Team members from Rhodia and Dow Corning have been working closely together to develop prototype solutions and report they are now actively engaged in identifying prospective customers around the world to contribute and participate in the next steps of the development activity. Dr. Thierry Materne, Dow Corning’s global industry director, Coating & Additives, confirms that through various contacts the team has already been able to gauge interest amongst potential customers and received a very positive response, and in the coming few months the team will visit further potential customers in Japan, the US and in Europe.