Soybean soon to be a staple in Bridgestone agri tyres
In addition to its research into guayule and Russian dandelion-sourced rubber, Bridgestone has looked into the potential applications of soybean oil in tyre manufacture. The company’s American operation has now unveiled a concept tyre it says contains more than ten per cent soybean oil. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations displayed the Firestone branded 800/70R38 Radial Deep Tread 23 agricultural tyre at the Farm Progress 2012 Show in Boone, Iowa, and says soybean oil may be present in its production agricultural tyres as early as next year.
“The soybean oil has replaced all the different petroleum-based processing oils used in the tyre’s compounds,” said Tom Rodgers, director of sales and marketing at Bridgestone Americas. “Engineers and compounders from our Americas Technology Center, and also the company’s Des Moines agricultural tyre plant, have been working on this concept tyre project for several months. Based on the progress of the project, we expect to begin incorporating soy oil into some of our agricultural tyres by early 2013. Our goal is to have soy oil as a component in all of our agriculture tyres by the end of 2013.”
Through soybean processing, one bushel (0.035m³) of soybeans yields approximately 11 pounds (4.9 kilogrammes) of soy oil. The concept tyre on display used roughly eight bushels of soybeans to yield 90 pounds of soy oil. Soy meal and soy oil are the primary yield in processing soybeans. Soy meal is a key ingredient in pork and poultry feed as a protein additive, and is the driver of demand in processing. Soy oil runs in excess of meal and, typically, any additional use of the oil helps to balance the cost of soy complex, driving meal and feed prices down.
“Any opportunity to enhance the value of the commodities our customers produce is a win for the industry,” added Rodgers. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to be a customer of our customers, and we are confident that the innovation of using soy oil in our tyres is a positive for the global food market.”
The tyre maker notes that the soybean tyre was unveiled exactly 80 years after Harvey Firestone introduced the first pneumatic tyre specifically designed for agricultural use; it thus views the innovation as “the latest example of how the Firestone brand has continued to build on the heritage, tyre technology and innovation that has revolutionised farming.”