AA concept tyre shows off Lanxess’ green solutions
Although not a tyre maker in its own right, Lanxess supplies its synthetic rubbers to major manufacturers around the world. But to demonstrate the company’s competence in product innovation and its solutions for green tyres, Lanxess has entered the tyre making business, albeit on a very small scale – the German specialty chemicals company has produced an ‘AA’ rated concept tyre.
The size 205/55 R16 91H tyre, one of the first publically-shown products capable of earning a European tyre label double-A rating, was tested under EC 1222/2009 by TÜV SÜD Automotive in September 2012. As a one-off, the tyre serves as a rolling billboard for materials rigorously tested by Lanxess and offered to its tyre industry customers. Furthermore, the AA concept tyre demonstrates the ability of Lanxess’ neodymium-based performance butadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) to increase tyre durability, especially in AA-rated tyres. Although durability does not feature as a criterion on the EU tyre label, Lanxess is certain it will be a key differentiation factor among top-ranked tyres.
“We believed that creating our own concept tyre was essential to developing a thorough command of our high-tech solutions and their significance to the finished product,” said Dr. Joachim Grub, head of the Performance Butadiene Rubbers business unit at Lanxess. “We are now moving from the age of tyre design to the age of tyre materials, which will make the difference in performance.”
Lanxess observes that traditionally, tyre makers have operated within what it calls the “magic triangle” of tyre design, which means that an improvement in durability has always come at the expense of either rolling resistance or wet grip. Several tyre makers claim to have overcome this conflict; Lanxess promotes its Nd-PBR and solution styrene butadiene rubber (SSBR) as solutions for tyre makers producing green tyres. SSBR is mainly used in the tyre’s tread compound.
Green tyre sector growing 10% annually
Lanxess claims to be the market leader for Nd-PBR used in green tyres, the fastest growing sector within the tyre industry. Currently the green tyre market enjoys an annual global growth rate of about ten per cent, with demand driven to a large extent by tyre labelling legislation and a growing, affluent middle class in Asia and Latin America.
The European label is expected to raise the profile of green tyres with consumers; Lanxess reports findings from the Technical University of Munich that anticipate ‘A’ and ‘B’ class tyres will achieve a market share of 20 to 30 per cent in the European Union in 2017 and then jump to 70 to 80 per cent in 2022. Other countries have also embarked on their own labelling schemes. Japan introduced a voluntary label in 2010 and Korea the following year; Korea’s tyre label becomes mandatory at the same time as Europe’s. The US and Brazil are also investigating label options, while Lanxess is working with the China Rubber Industry Association towards developing and implementing tyre labelling in China.
Savings to be made
Studies show that 20 to 30 per cent of a vehicle’s fuel consumption and 24 per cent of road vehicle CO2 emissions are tyre-related. Green tyres can reduce fuel consumption by five to seven per cent and have a shorter cost amortisation period in comparison to other fuel-saving technologies in cars. To help calculate the potential savings motorists can make, Lanxess has launched a new fuel savings calculator, and says it serves as “a particularly valuable accessory in these times of record fuel prices.”
The fuel savings calculator answers three main questions: How much money can I save by using fuel-efficient or green tyres? How long does it take before the tyres have paid for themselves? And what is the reduction in the car’s CO2 emissions? The software was developed in cooperation with the Technical University of Munich, and then tested and certified by TÜV Rheinland. The free Lanxess app for smartphones, tablets and web-enabled PCs is available from both the Apple Appstore, and at http://app.green-mobility.com.