Pirelli & Cie SpA and the Politecnico University of Milan have extended their joint research partnership through 2020 and will continue working on tire technology innovations for the future.
The topics on their to-do list for the next three years are expansive:
- the use of nano charges to produce tires with low environmental impact;
- mathematical modelling studies to support the Cyber Tire program;
- development of innovative materials that can protect tires from aging.
Pirelli says these projects represent "key pillars of the joint mission" between the university and the tire maker.
Their collaboration dates all the way back to 1870, when Giovanni Battista Pirelli graduated from the university and was advised by a lecturer to pursue chemical engineering and specifically, rubber manufacturing. Pirelli introduced the industry to Italy and founded his namesake company in 1872.
This new agreement, which runs from 2017 to 2020, concentrates on two key areas of research: design of innovative materials, and development of products and cyber technologies.
Research in new materials will focus on modified polymers, nano charges, new materials with low environmental impact and molecular dynamics.
Work on products and cyber technologies development will focus on noise reduction, aquaplaning resistance, tire aerodynamics, development of mathematical models for chips within Cyber Tires to gather data for intelligent control of vehicles, and development of other services that add extra value.
Marco Tronchetti Provera, executive vice chairman and CEO of Pirelli, says, “More than ever these days, innovating and carrying out research is not an option but a must. Those who do not step up soon disappear from the scene, and those who do not invest are not competitive. Those who instead invest first enjoy greater advantages in the marketplace.
"The challenges that our sector, the automotive industry, are going through are getting increasingly bigger. We are experiencing a period of unprecedented transformation where automation and connectivity are king. In such a dynamic context, it’s essential to work very closely with research bodies and the most advanced universities in the world; the University of Milan is certainly one of those.
"With the renewal of the Joint Labs program, Pirelli underlines its commitment to collaborate with one of the most renowned academic institutions in the country, with the firm intention of confirming our Group’s strategic know-how in Italy.”
The collaboration between the university, the University of Milan Foundation and Pirelli over the last six years has generated nine patent families and more than 20 international scientific scholarly articles.
Tire performance has been a key component of the partnership, as well as safety and sustainability. Fifteen research projects have been assigned to young graduates in the field of materials chemistry, and two doctorates have been completed as a result of the association with Pirelli.
Research over the last three years has concentrated mainly on production and functionality of carbon charges (from graphene to carbon black nanotubes), preparation of modified silicon fiber, and studies on alternative sources of natural rubber, as well as the creation of innovative polymers and self-repairing materials.
Since 2011, 12 research contracts have been activated for Cyber Tire and Formula 1, which focus on the interaction between tires and the road surface.
Tires that produce minimal noise is another area of particular interest. Known as the Silent Tire Project, new testing methods have been introduced to measure the noise produced by a tire in motion. Thanks to the Tread Modeling Automation project, there have also been studies of tire modeling and the characteristics of different summer, winter, and all-season tread patterns.