Three Tips to Leverage a Green Initiative with Tire Technology

The more we uncover about our effect on the environment, the more clear the importance of green initiatives in tire technology becomes.

As far as eco-friendly industries go, the rubber and tire industries have never been ranked at the top of the green list. Their dependence on petroleum and other non-renewable resources has created quite the negative reputation when it comes to preserving the environment. But recently, tire technology has turned its focus to sustainable solutions in response to an elevated demand for green tire initiatives.

To reduce their carbon footprint, some manufacturers focus on reducing the amount of waste they send to landfills, or offsetting their carbon emissions by planting trees and investing in green product transportation methods.

The actual design of a tire can reduce its carbon footprint, too. Improving technology has given manufacturers the ability to reduce rolling resistance. Discoveries and advancements in eco-friendly raw materials can reduce reliance on petroleum. And simply designing your tires to last longer keeps them out of landfills and reduces the total number of tires used over time.

So what can you do? With the help of a rubber testing laboratory, you can innovate your product toward a greener future.

Long-Lasting Tires

It’s not likely that you’ll hear complaints from your consumers if your tires last a long time—and the planet will thank you, too. You can check your product’s longevity with tire rubber testing to ensure a strong, high-quality end product.

Flex Fatigue Testing

For example, flex fatigue testing helps to determine your material’s ability to withstand cyclical stresses and strains.

During flex testing, we will expose your rubber to cyclic flexing through surface cracking and breaking. We also provide an estimation of your rubber’s ability to resist crack growth through cyclic flexing of a pierced test specimen. To get an idea for fatigue life at various extension ratios, we can examine full flex-life performance.  

Abrasion Testing

Abrasion testing is also useful when determining the lifespan of tire rubber.

To evaluate your rubber sample’s ability to resist wear, we run it through an abrasion test.

The test exposes your sample to a rotating drum fitted with an abrasive media. After this test, we measure the rubber’s performance by comparing its weight before and after exposure to the abrasive element.

For rubber used to create tires, this testing is essential. You want your tire to hold up over years of cycling against roads without excessive damage or wear.

If your material performs well during flex fatigue and abrasion tests, you can rest assured that your product will gain a reputation for quality with the end user. And, of course, you will be reducing the number of tires in landfills by keeping them on the road for as long as possible.

Eco-Friendly Raw Materials

The next wave of eco-friendly tire technology is bringing in alternatives to traditional rubber that depends on petroleum. Many tire manufacturers, tasked with decreasing the environmental impact of their product, are moving away from nonrenewable petroleum and toward plant-based renewable alternatives.

In a “green” tire, you will find plant-derived and recycled raw materials. Typically, they will also contain non-aromatic oils.

Some examples of plant-derived raw materials include:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Flora-derived latex
  • Orange peel oil
  • Biomass (including agricultural waste)
  • Vegetable fats and oils
  • Dandelion and Guayule
  • Soybean Oil

Many tire companies, like Continental, Michelin, and Goodyear, have experimental farms across the world. These farms serve as a testing ground for environmentally friendly methods of tire manufacturing.

So far, they have seen great success growing Russian dandelion and Guayule in Europe and the United States—reducing the need for an extra expense to import the plants. Goodyear has found that using soybean oil increases tread life by ten percent, while greatly reducing the amount of petroleum needed. Carbon black tire pigment, traditionally a petroleum-based substance, may also be made from vegetable fats and oils.

Rolling Resistance

The energy a tire consumes while rolling under a load is its rolling resistance. Lower rolling resistance means lower energy consumption, and therefore improved fuel efficiency and reduced carbon emissions for the vehicle it supports.

Tire fuel economy is also a great way to appeal to consumers—whether they’re budget-conscious, eco-conscious, or both, they’ll be saving fuel with low rolling resistance tires.

It is estimated that five to fifteen percent of fuel consumed by passenger cars is related to overcoming rolling resistance. For large trucks, it can account for as much as thirty percent of fuel usage. So, you can see how improvements in this arena can create major results for a tire’s environmental friendliness.

How to Reduce Rolling Resistance

To reduce the rolling resistance of a tire, most manufacturers focus on tread pattern and tire material weight. Small tread features tend to result in lower rolling resistance, especially when they are designed to sit around the circumference of the tread.

As for weight, the lighter a tire is, the more efficiently it will roll. To achieve a lighter tire, manufacturers can either use less of their original material, or move toward a lighter material.

Additionally, one of the largest strides to improved rolling resistance has been the growing substitution of carbon black for precipitated silica over the past few years.

Some people may see the impact of low rolling resistance tires as insignificant. After all, they typically only reduce the fuel consumption by about three percent. But that three percent, when considered across a great number of both passenger vehicles and larger trucks, can make a significant and meaningful difference in carbon emissions.

As with any green initiative, it is so important to remember that every little effort counts.

What Does “Green” Mean for You?

So, you’re interested in a green initiative, but aren’t sure where to start.

If you’ve got questions, we want to help you find answers. Contact us today to collaborate on green innovations for your tires. The planet—and consumers—will thank you.

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