Now UL/Malaysia’s sustainable raw material for more fuel efficient tyres is in commercial production, Ekoprena is being showcased at this week’s Tire Tech Expo.
Ekoprena representatives report that they will be explaining why this material is “the only way for tyre manufacturers to be at the forefront of green innovation and to claim ownership of the most ecologically sound tyres.”
No dinosaurs went into the production of a tyre Sumitomo Rubber Industries will launch at the Tokyo Motor Show – some 12 years after it began working to reduce fossil fuel content in its products, the Japanese company is now ready to roll out its first 100 per cent fossil fuel-free tyre. And when the show begins on 23 November, visitors won’t just be looking at another concept tyre – Sumitomo says it is gearing up to introduce this milestone in its Enasave programme into the domestic market. The new tyre will be sold under the Dunlop brand name.
Two papers delivered at the end of the tyre-based segment of the International Rubber Research and Development Board's International Rubber Conference 2013 focused on rubber technologies helping to create the next wave of green tyres. Dr Stuart Cook, the director of research at TAARC, gave a brief history of the research centre’s development of Ekoprena, starting with Michelin’s identification of the first “green tyre” back in 1992, while Sumitomo's Kozaburo Nakaseko indicated the corporation's intention to launch a "fossil fuel free tyre" in the second half of 2013, mixing "epoxidised natural rubber" with a more highly refined rubber product.
At the end of February, commercial production of Ekoprena began in Malaysia. Currently one company, Felda Rubber Industries, is the sole manufacturer of this epoxidised natural rubber, and senior marketing manager Sarimah Nasir told Tyres & Accessories that Felda is preparing to produce between 200 and 300 tonnes of Ekoprena and Pureprena deproteinised natural rubber per month this year.
At the 13th annual Tire Technology Expo awards, held last night in Cologne, Apollo Tyres was honoured as Tire Manufacturer of the Year. Shortlisted alongside Bridgestone, Continental and Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Apollo was selected for the award in recognition of the brand’s continued expansion in the European market, growth underpinned by the launch of key products such as its first high performance summer tyre for Europe, the Aspire 4G, and the inauguration of a new technical centre in Enschede, The Netherlands, a site that has taken on global responsibility for passenger car tyre research and development. Announcing Apollo’s selection as Tire Manufacturer of the year, Tire Technology International noted the company’s “impressive” financial growth; in 2011-12, Apollo’s revenue exceeded US$2.5 billion for the first time.
It’s now been six years since Sumitomo Rubber introduced its first eco-oriented tyre containing a form of epoxidised natural rubber called Ekoprena. Yet despite Sumitomo’s success with this product, Ekoprena remains an unknown quantity in much of the wider tyre world. The rubber’s developers, the Malaysian Rubber Board, intends to change this. Last year it appointed two companies to produce Ekoprena in quantities sufficient for its commercialization. Tyres & Accessories recently spoke to Paul Brown, head of the Advanced Materials and Product Design Unit at the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre, the UK-based research centre run by the Malaysian Rubber Board, and he confirmed that commercial production of Ekoprena will get under way this year.
Two years ago Sumitomo Rubber subsidiary Dunlop Falken Tyres Ltd releases the Enasave 97, a tyre containing only three per cent petroleum derived materials. The substance enabling this close to total freedom from synthetic rubber in the Ensave 97 is Ekoprena, an epoxidised natural rubber. Significant development work on compounds based upon this rubber has been undertaken by TARRC, the UK based laboratory operated by the Malaysian Rubber Board. TARRC’s consultancy arm, Rubber Consultants, recently attended Tire Technology Expo in Germany and reported on the latest Ekoprena developments.