The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company plans to test tyre components in space as part of a project in the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, through an experiment expected to launch later this year. Specifically, it will study the formation of silica particles in the satellite’s microgravity environment. By gathering knowledge from this evaluation, Goodyear engineers and scientists can determine if further investigation of unique forms of precipitated silica should be considered in tyres.
Close customer proximity can provide measurable and also intangible benefits. Japanese chemical company Asahi Kasei aims to achieve both with its newly-established research and development presence in Europe. Tyres & Accessories recently visited the facility to find out more.
On 21 June 2018 ExxonMobil announced it had started production of hydrogenated hydrocarbon resin and halobutyl rubber at its integrated manufacturing complex in Singapore, the company’s largest integrated refining and petrochemical complex in the world. ExxonMobil’s new Escorez hydrogenated hydrocarbon resins plant will be the world’s largest with a capacity of 90,000 tonnes per year, and will meet long-term demand growth for hot-melt adhesives used in packaging or baby diapers. The new 140,000-tonnes-per-year butyl plant will produce premium halobutyl rubber used by manufacturers for tyres to better maintain inflation to improve fuel economy.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering the co-development of synthetic rubber technologies has been signed between Hankook Tire and Arlanxeo. Under the terms of the MoU, the two companies will jointly study and develop new high-performance synthetic rubber grades and applications, with the aim of increasing tyre performance from the early stages of product development.
Prices for Arlanxeo Buna and X_Butyl products have risen from 1 May 2018, an increase that Arlanxeo says have been “driven by the overall market situation.” Customers have been individually contacted regarding the price increases.
Pirelli has signed a contract with synthetic rubber maker Nizhnekamskneftekhim to establish supply in 2018. According to Nizhnekamskneftekhim, the contract was signed during a working visit to Milan by the president of the Republic of Tatarstan in December.
Russian rubber and petrochemicals manufacturer Nizhnekamskneftekhim signed an agreement to provide synthetic rubber to Michelin during a meeting held in late June.
A delegation from the Russian company, including Vladimir Busygin, chairman of the board of directors and other senior officials, visited Michelin’s R&D center in Clermont-Ferrand, France to discuss the supply of new brands of synthetic rubber to the tyre maker.
According to reports recently published by Research and Markets, the global solution styrene butadiene rubber (S-SBR) market is expected to reach US$5.40 billion by 2025, while the global polybutadiene market is expected to reach US$5.83 billion by that date.
On 8 February a team of researchers, led by the University of Minnesota, announced that they have invented a new technology to produce automobile tyres from trees and grasses. According to reports, the University of Minnesota’s Office for Technology Commercialization, has applied for a patent on the renewable rubber technology and plans to license the technology to companies interested in commercializing it.
The promise is of not only a better-performing synthetic rubber, but also a sustainable one. Bridgestone Corporation has announced its successful creation of a new synthetic isoprene rubber (IR), something it achieved through precise molecular structure control utilising a new polymerisation catalyst. The company believes the new IR can deliver durability and fuel-efficiency performance surpassing that of natural rubber, and as it can be created using isoprene derived from renewable biomass, it offers the potential to be a sustainable material. Bridgestone aims to achieve the practical application of IR during the 2020s.
Versalis, a European producer in the polymers and elastomers industry, and bioengineering firm Genomatica’s joint venture project to create renewable butadiene has been presented with Tire Technology International’s Environmental Achievement of the Year award. The companies embarked on the long-term project to address concerns around potential butadiene shortages and price increases. In a demonstration run in 2016, several kilograms of renewable butadiene were prepared starting from commercial sugars, with polymerisation tests showing no differences between the polybutadiene prepared from fossil or renewable feedstock.
Reliance Sibur Elastomers Private Limited (RSEPL), a joint venture between Russian gas and petrochemicals company Sibur and India’s Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), has announced plans to establish southern Asia’s first halogenated butyl rubber unit at RIL’s integrated petrochemical facility in Jamnagar, India. Halogenated butyl is a key ingredient in the manufacture of tubless tyre inner liners.
The leading Taiwanese tyre manufactures are reportedly planning to raise prices by between 8-12 per cent during 2017. According to local news reports, the price hike is a reaction to the jump in synthetic rubber and natural rubber prices.