Lanxess shares on advanced rubber activities at Tire Tech
A high profile exhibitor and participant at this week’s Tire Technology Expo has been Lanxess. Senior personnel from the German specialty chemicals company were present at the Cologne-based show to share the role Lanxess products play in the manufacture of environmentally-friendly, label-friendly tyres.
“The worldwide tyre labelling initiatives are a key incentive for the global tyre industry, and our recent comprehensive survey of the SSBR market captured the mood of this industry,” commented Christoph Kalla, head of Marketing for Lanxess’ Performance Butadiene Rubbers (PBR) business unit. “Anyone who is looking to make tyres even safer and even more economical needs advanced tyre rubbers. This is exactly what we’re focusing on – and that’s the message we’re aiming to get across at this year’s Tire Technology Expo and Conference.” Kalla then described Lanxess as “one of the most active suppliers when it comes to further improvement of the current generation of tyre rubbers.”
In her presentation entitled “Retread: a sustainable option with rubbers from Lanxess”, Mônica Romero Santos Fernandes from Lanxess Elastômeros do Brasil SA described how tyre tread abrasion properties can be improved by using the company’s Buna SL instead of the emulsion SBR rubbers, such as Buna SE, that are more conventionally used. She stated that, in conjunction with appropriate fillers, Buna SL can also help reduce tread rolling resistance. These findings are likely to be particularly beneficial for retreading, opines Lanxess.
Heike Kloppenburg from Lanxess’ Performance Butadiene Rubbers business unit discussed new NdBR rubbers that are far easier to process than standard NdBR. Even in conjunction with polar SSBR grades, these grades are said to make no compromise when it comes to tyre performance. New NdBR grades from Lanxess, Kloppenburg added, offer comparably easy processing to rubbers such as cobalt-polybutadiene, while the resultant tyre compound produces the lower rolling resistance typical of NdBR.
SSBR expert Norbert Steinhauser shared news of a new technology for making functionalised SSBR using both the batch process and continuous polymerisation. He explained that in application engineering tests on tread compounds, the new functionalised SSBR grades from Lanxess demonstrated far lower rolling resistance and the same good wet grip as the SSBR grades the company previously supplied. The manufacture of these functionalised SSBR grades has now been transferred from the laboratory to industrial-scale production. Initial results from tyre tests confirm the findings of the application engineering tests, Steinhauser added.
Polymer physicist Saeid Kheirandish explained how critical rubber processing parameters can influence the tyre compound’s properties. The latest generation of polybutadiene, for example, boasts both high energy efficiency and a longer service life – two aspects that are particularly important for tyre rubbers – but have so far been hard to combine. The process window for the production of optimal products, however, is relatively narrow. Taking a rheological perspective, Kheirandish described the impact that the selection of optimum process parameters such as extrusion speed and temperature have on the compound’s properties and the limits processors may need to consider.
Last but not least, Goran Stojcevic, technical marketing manager, Lanxess NV, Belgium presented how bromobutyl rubber can enhance a tyre’s traction and safety properties. Brominated isobutylene/isoprene has been used for years as a key component in inner-liner production. Thanks to its good damping properties, however, it can also improve traction properties. Using an appropriate compound formulation in ultra-high-performance treads, brominated isobutylene/isoprene can help ensure high energy efficiency while also significantly improving road traction.