Goodyear awarded for soybean oil innovation

After what has been described as the “tightest race” at the 2018 Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was named the winner in the Environmental Achievement of the Year category. The tyre maker was awarded for its work in applying soybean oil in tyre tread compound as a replacement for traditional petroleum oil. Goodyear narrowly beat fellow shortlistee PPG/US DOE, which had been nominated for its work to combine silica with natural rubber to reduce rolling resistance in truck tyres. The shortlist also included Apollo Tyres/RRI and JK Tyre & Industries Ltd.

“Our work with the United Soybean Board presented a unique challenge and opportunity for our material scientists and tyre engineers to employ soybean oil in the development of superior performing tyres,” said Chris Helsel, Goodyear’s chief technology officer. “It is exciting to see that work payoff with commercially successful products, and an honour to be recognised by the industry for the environmental achievement.”

Over the past few years, Goodyear worked with the United Soybean Board to develop soy-based technology to enhance tyre performance. Following extensive analysis and road testing, this new technology is now being used in two new Goodyear tyres sold in the North American market – the Assurance WeatherReady and the Eagle Enforcer All Weather.

Goodyear discovered that soybean oil can improve a tyre’s flexibility at low temperatures, helping the rubber to remain pliable in cold weather and enhancing traction in rain and snow simultaneously. Additionally, it was found that soybean oil mixes more easily with rubber compounds and reduces energy consumption, therefore improving efficiency during the manufacturing process. When entirely placing petroleum oil in the tread compound, the total amount of petroleum oil contained within the tyre is reduced by 60 per cent.

“Goodyear’s innovative industrialisation of soybean oil technology proves that research and development in sustainable materials can benefit not only the environment, but also tyre performance. I believe that this type of ‘win-win’ innovation will increasingly become the norm, rather than the exception, in the tyre industry of the future,” said Graham Heeps, editor, Tire Technology International and chairman of the judging panel.

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