Goodyear: New silica boosts fuel efficiency

May 5, 2015

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has begun using a next-generation silica to increase the fuel-efficiency of its tires. This new silica will be first used in the Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV tire, which is being launched this month in Latin American markets.

Goodyear says tires containing the silica will be introduced in other regions within the next year.

Goodyear says its researchers have worked with PPG Industries Inc. for more than a decade to examine the effects of chemically treated silica on tire performance. The goal was to further improve rolling resistance without have a detrimental effect on traction in wet conditions.  

In Goodyear’s new EffcientGrip SUV tire, this next generation silica was used in a new tread compound and a new tread pattern to provide both improved rolling resistance and improved wet traction.

“Our customers around the world are demanding more fuel-efficient tires, but they want us to minimize the typical trade-offs,” says David Zanzig, director of global materials science for Goodyear.

“Our materials scientists worked in cross-functional teams and, together with tire design and construction engineers, they derived an integrated solution that optimizes performance. This new silica plays a critical role in satisfying our customers’ needs.”

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.

In addition, this new silica – marketed by PPG Industries as AGILON performance silica – has been shown to have processing advantages that also benefit the environment. Since it is easier to mix into compounds, factories can consume less energy in the tire production process and lessen emissions.

In its efforts to create more environmentally friendly tires, Goodyear has been exploring its options with silica. Last year, Goodyear reached supply agreements to purchase silica derived from the ash left behind after rice husks are incinerated.

“While no one source of these new sources of silica are able to fulfill our total demand, they each play an important part in our materials line-up as we strive to create more environmentally friendly tires,” says Zanzig.

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