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The Dow Chemical Company Message Board

  • the_nervous_resistor the_nervous_resistor Mar 25, 2004 10:48 AM Flag

    Green Tires @ Dow Corning

    Check out

    Phase transfer catalysis for incorporating silica particles into the rubber to replace carbon black. Nice work.

    Guess those "puds" have been up to their "ole inventin thingy" again. Maybe a few jobs derive from that.


    Some of the story below:

    Dow Corning Technology Breakthrough Reduces Cost to Produce 'Green' Tires in Drive for Greener, Safer Motoring
    Wednesday March 24, 4:12 pm ET

    MIDLAND, Mich., March 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As consumer demand for improved road safety, better fuel economy and reduced environmental impact has gained momentum, tire manufacturers have searched for affordable solutions. But although the technology to produce "green" tires has been around since the early 1990s, they were not widely adopted because of the higher cost of manufacturing. A technology breakthrough at Dow Corning Corporation may provide a solution, heralding an era of greater availability of safer(1), "green" automobile tires.

    Green tires offer numerous benefits. Their extra resiliency in the tread improves driving safety by providing better grip on slippery roads. Studies have shown that green tires' traction reduces stopping distances on wet and icy surfaces by 15 percent and improves overall winter driving performance by 10 to 15 percent. Tire-rolling resistance is reduced by up to 20 percent compared to an equivalent standard tire, which reduces vehicle fuel consumption by up to 5 percent. They also reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
    "Green" tires first emerged as a concept in the 1990s when tire engineers discovered that if they used silane-treated silica as a reinforcing filler in tread compounds, instead of the traditional carbon black, tire rolling resistance was improved. Despite this and other benefits, the higher manufacturing cost of using silane coupling agents to produce silica- reinforced tread meant higher costs to consumers and hindered widespread acceptance.

    The breakthrough came when Dow Corning technologists at the company's site in Barry, UK, began collaborating with researchers at the company's advanced research and development facility in Midland, Michigan, USA. Using Phase Transfer Catalysis (PTC) technology, they developed a method through which the silane needed for the silica treatment component and used to make green tires could be made more affordably through a reduction in both the amount of materials consumed and the costs in making silane coupling agents.
    The technology's environmental benefits occur both in their manufacture and use on cars. "When comparing the amount of CO2 released in the manufacturing process with the amount of CO2 saved during the life of the tires, the benefit is that for every ton of CO2 produced in making the sulfido silane, 250 tons of CO2 are saved in reduced fuel consumption by the green tires made with it -- a very good trade off," Harvey concluded.

    The new technology that enables these cost benefits is "Phase-transfer catalysis," which accelerates the reaction time needed for making silanes, reducing manufacturing costs and the amount of materials needed. In addition, the improved PTC technology requires no salt filtration, hazardous solvents, or solvent recovery -- moving the "green" philosophy down the supply chain.

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    • Sounds cool, but too good to be true. What's the catch? A 5% fuel savings is huge, even if it's just 'up to 5%', especially given all the other research that's gone into making cars/engines more efficient. Anyone have the skinny on how much these things will really cost, if they will actually be produced at all, etc.?


      • 3 Replies to bbbiobbboy
      • A few links on "Green Tires" are below. Note bene: the term "green tire" is also a manufacturing process term for the tire assembly prior to tread molding.

        1. How a tire is made, from a Rubber Manufacturer's Association website:

        2. A paper from DeGussa about the silica used to replace carbon black:

        3. A Michelin Corporate website that discusses the importance of rolling resistance in fuel consumption and the results of comparing black and green tires.

      • Hey bbb,

        Last time I came across a 'bbb' was my '5b' club many moons ago ... namely ... Boys Bare Ball Bathing Beach. To become a member, one had to "float-the-bottle-on-the-table" as cars drove by on Highway 13. If you got two toots, you were well hung ... if they passed you bye ... you were advised not to join the local nudist colony ... sigh ...

        In your post, you ask a good question. You ask - what's the catch? ... methinks it's in the following exerpt ...

        "Green" tires first emerged as a concept in the 1990s when tire engineers discovered that if they used silane-treated silica as a reinforcing filler in tread compounds, instead of the traditional carbon black, tire rolling resistance was improved. Despite this and other benefits, the higher manufacturing cost of using silane coupling agents to produce silica- reinforced tread meant higher costs to consumers and hindered widespread acceptance.


      • B's,

        I found this 2001 reference:

        Specialty Silicas Ride the Green Tire Boom.(J.M. Huber Corp. manufactures 'green' tires)(Brief Article)(Statistical Data Included)
        Chemical Market Reporter, Oct 22, 2001, by Ivan Lerner


        ENVIRONMENTAL and fuel concerns are driving the green tires market, and with it, some segments of the specialty silicas market.

        Although popular in Europe, green tires have yet to make significant headway into the US. However, "it's just a matter of time before green tires win a substantial share of the US tire market," says Larry Evans, technical manager for rubber of Huber Engineered Materials, a division of the J.M. Huber Corp. "They have proven their value in Europe through improved fuel economy and better traction.. .and lower emissions."

        Introduced by Michelin in 1992, green tire technology uses highly dispersible silica (HDS) instead of carbon black in its formulation. The average tire contains about a kilogram of HDS, says Mr. Evans.

        Green tires have become the standard first mount for passenger cars in Europe, and Western Europe's annual consumption of precipitated silica has climbed from zero in 1992 to 100,000 tons in 1999. The European market for precipitated silica is growing at a rate of about 10 percent annually, versus only 4 percent for the world as a whole, says a Rhodia official. The European tire market has standardized on green tires for at least five years, originally in order to save on fuel costs. Today, says Mr. Evans, 100 percent of European OEM tires contain some form of silica filler.

        On a global basis, the current precipitated silicas market is approaching 800,000 metric tons, nearly 60 percent of which is consumed in rubber goods, notes Todd Harris, an analyst with the Little Falls, N.J.-based consultancy Kline & Co. Manufactured rubber goods, which includes footwear, and industrial rubber products, such as belts and hoses, make up a little over 50 percent of this volume in the rubber sector. Tire products, including green tires, comprise the balance.

        Several companies have recently made expansions in their capabilities to produce materials for green tires. In late March, W.R. Grace acquired the precipitated silicas business of Akzo-PQ Silica, a joint venture of Akzo Nobel and PQ, for an undisclosed sum. The silicas are supplied to the European market for use as additives in paints, paper and rubber compounds, including green tires.

        "Precipitated by far the largest segment of specialty silicas," says a Grace representative. The market is $800 million to $1 billion a year, he says. The largest precipitated silicas players, accounting for about 75 percent of the market, are Degussa, Rhodia, PPG and J.M. Huber.

        In July, Degussa's precipitated silica project in Wesseling, Germany, an [pound]80 million ($68 million) investment to expand the 240,000 metric ton per year plant, is already paying off, says the company, with two new products. Sipernat 2200, a microgranulated silica is used as a dust-free carrier in the food and feed industry and in plant protection systems, and Ultrasil 7005 is a highly dispersible silica for the rubber industry.

        In September, Dow Corning started up a new $11 million, 16,000-metric-ton-per-year organosilanic unit in Midland, Mich. The company says that the investment was in response to market demand. "We are making gains in the green tire segment through new products, and this capacity provides the opportunity to capture a significant share of that market," says a Dow representative.

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