Yokohama combines rubber with citrus oil to reduce petroleum usage

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Citrus instead of petroleum: That's one way Japan-based Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. (YRC) is using technology to make better tires for consumers and the environment.

As part of its global EcoMotion environmental program, the company has developed a process that combines citrus oil with natural rubber to form a new compound called "Super Nanopower Rubber (SNR)." According to Yokohama, it reduces the use of petroleum products in tires by 80%.

The first SNR product is the Decibel Super E-Spec, an all-new consumer passenger tire.

According to Jim MacMaster, executive vice president, business division, for YRC's United States subisidiary, Yokohama Tire Corp., the fuel-saving E-Spec tire features an air permeation suppression film. "This new polymer inner-lining is designed to reduce air from seeping out from the tire, which helps maintain appropriate inflation levels. Underinflated tires consume more power, thus using more fuel.

"The E-Spec is also a lot lighter and conserves gasoline by reducing rolling resistance by 18%," he says. "Low rolling resistance tires improve fuel efficiency by minimizing the energy wasted (as heat) as the tire rolls down the road."

The E-Spec tire featuring the SNR compound will be available in Japan later in the year, but MacMaster said no date has been determined for release in the U.S. market.

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