Goodyear discovers soybean oil can reduce use of petroleum in tyres

Researchers at the Goodyear Innovation Centre in Akron, Ohio, have found that using soybean oil in the manufacture of tyres can potentially increase tread life by ten per cent and reduce the manufacturer’s use of petroleum oil by up to 26 million litres each year.

In addition, testing at one of Goodyear’s tyre plants showed improved mixing capabilities in the manufacturing process. The company found that rubber compounds made with soybean oil blend more easily with the silica that is used in making tyres. This can improve manufacturing plant efficiency and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Goodyear is committed to caring for the environment and communities, and the use of soybean oil is proving to be another way to accomplish this goal,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear’s Chief Technical Officer. “Consumers benefit through improved tread life, Goodyear gains with increased efficiency and energy savings and we all win whenever there is a positive impact on the environment.”

The research has received support from the agricultural sector, with the United Soybean Board (USB) providing $500,000 towards the project.

“The United Soybean Board congratulates Goodyear for its commitment to sustainability,” said Russ Carpenter, Chairman of USB’s New Uses Committee and himself a soybean farmer from New York State. “The ongoing discovery of novel applications for soybean oil validates our commitment to the environment, cultivating a renewable feedstock that reduces carbon emissions and provides a natural replacement for petrochemical alternatives.”

Goodyear expects consumers to be able to purchase tyres made with soybean oil as early as 2015.

Another effort underway at Goodyear to save non-renewable fossil fuel is Goodyear’s Air Maintenance Technology (AMT). AMT will enable tyres to always remain inflated at the optimum pressure – without the need for any external pumps or electronics. All components of the AMT system will be fully contained within the tyre. The potential benefits of such a system include improved fuel economy, reduced emissions, longer tyre life, enhanced safety and better performance.

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