Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has reached a supply agreement with Yihai Food and Oil Industry in China for silica derived from rice husk ash. Goodyear will begin using the silica this year in a consumer tire that will be manufactured in its factory in Pulandian, China, and sold in China.
Goodyear says it has tested silica derived from rice husk ash over the past two years at its Innovation Center in Akron, Ohio, and found its impact on tire performance to be equal to traditional sources.
“Sustainability is a cornerstone of Goodyear’s innovation efforts,” says Chairman and CEO Richard J. Kramer. “This new silica benefits the environment in many ways: It reduces waste going into landfills; it requires less energy to produce; and it helps make tires more fuel efficient.”
Each year, more than 700 million tons of rice are harvested worldwide, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, and disposing of the rice husks is an environmental challenge.
As a result, husks often are burned to generate electricity and reduce the amount of waste shipped to landfills. While this ash has been converted to silica for several years, only these most recent processes created a silica of a high enough grade to use in tires.
Silica is used as a reinforcing agent in tire tread compounds. Compared to carbon black, a traditional reinforcing agent for tires, silica reduces rolling resistance. Lower rolling resistance, in turn, improves a car’s fuel economy. It also can have a positive impact on a tire’s traction on wet surfaces.
In addition to the agreement with Yihai, Goodyear is negotiating agreements with additional suppliers. Financial details of the agreements are not being released.
To learn more about Goodyear’s commitment to the environment, visit its corporate responsibility website at http://www.goodyear.com/responsibility.