Goodyear tests show utility of soybean oil in tyres
Soybean has long been considered good for us, and now it appears it may also be good for our tyres. Goodyear Tire & Rubber announced today that tests undertaken at its Innovation Center in the US show using soybean oil in tyres can potentially increase tread life by ten per cent; it can also reduce the company’s use of petroleum-based oil by up to seven million US gallons, or 26.5 million litres, per annum.
In addition, testing at Goodyear’s tyre plant in Lawton, Oklahoma showed improved mixing capabilities in the manufacturing process. Goodyear found that rubber compounds made with soybean oil blend more easily with silica, and thus the process requires lower energy.
“Goodyear is committed to caring for the environment and communities, and use of soybean oil is proving to be another way to accomplish this goal,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear’s chief technical officer. “Consumers benefit through improved tread life, Goodyear gains with increased efficiency and energy savings and we all win whenever there is a positive impact on the environment.”
Prototype tyres built in Lawton will be tested at Goodyear’s Proving Grounds in San Angelo, Texas in the coming months. If indicators remain positive, Goodyear expects consumers will be able to purchase tyres made with soybean oil as early as 2015.
The United Soybean Board, an association representing the interests of US soybean farmers, is helping fund the Goodyear project with a grant of US$500,000 over two years. Goodyear will display a tyre made with soybean oil on 6 and 7 August at The Ford Motor Company’s research centre in Dearborn, Michigan, as part of an event sponsored by the board.
“The United Soybean Board congratulates Goodyear for its commitment to sustainability,” said Russ Carpenter, the United Soybean Board’s New Uses Committee chair. “The ongoing discovery of novel applications for soybean oil validates our commitment to the environment, cultivating a renewable feedstock that reduces carbon emissions and provides a natural replacement for petrochemical alternatives. The USB and America’s soybean farmers are excited to support Goodyear in this effort to provide consumers with cost-effective, eco-friendly products.”
The use of soybean oil is just one of the initiatives currently underway at Goodyear to increase its use of renewable raw materials. Joint work by Goodyear and DuPont Industrial Biosciences to develop BioIsoprene, a bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene, continues. BioIsoprene can be used for the production of synthetic rubber and other elastomers. Goodyear comments that the development of BioIsoprene will help further reduce the tyre and rubber industry’s dependence on petroleum-derived products.
Another effort underway in Goodyear to save non-renewable fossil fuel is Goodyear’s Air Maintenance Technology, or AMT. The aim of this technology is to enable tyres to remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for any external pumps or electronics. All components of the AMT system will be fully contained within the tyre.