With the availability of alternative natural sources and cutting-edge technology, the tyre of today can be completely redesigned to score on several parameters of cost, durability, performance and sustainability - by Dr. R Mukhopadhyay Director - Research & Development, JK Tyre & Industries
With around 60% of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2030, global efforts are directed towards addressing the challenges emerging from the rapid pace of urbanisation, climate change and increased traffic density. In this regard, the automobile industry is focussing on complying with stringent regulations for reducing vehicle emissions and promoting greener mobility not only through electrification of vehicles, but also through material research and development in tyre technology.
TYRES INDISPENSABLE ELEMENT OF GREEN MOBILITY
Significant factors have influenced new tyre technology developments such as increasing requirements of automobile manufacturers and growing customer needs & expectations. Both the automobile & tyre manufactures play a key role in contributing to the goals of green mobility. Some of the several initiatives already underway include efforts to reduce fossil fuel dependency, noise, rolling resistance and energy loss of tyres, while improving their durability, air retention, heat dissipation and performance in wet/dry traction.
Green mobility focusses on optimising key constructional factors and minimising emissions, consumption of non-renewable resources and adaption of eco-friendly materials as well as compounds to meet the new requirements.
NEWER MATERIALS TO REDEFINE SAFETY, PERFORMANCE AND GREEN MOBILITY
With a focus on reducing fossil fuel dependence, the current share of petro-based materials in tyres can be replaced to a great extent by bio-sourced, recycled & recyclable materials over the next 30 years. Weight reduction to the extent of 50% without sacrificing performance is expected to be achieved by 2050, and this is anticipated to reduce tyre rolling resistance and noise, including saving materials.
Among several new materials being tested, the trend is already towards using Functionalised Solution SBR modified with different coupling agent, rubber containing functional groups over the entire length of the backbone, latex – carbon black/silica master batch, magneto-rheological materials, etc. Based on the principle of bionics, natural materials such as natural silica, nano clay, nano calcium carbonate, montmorillonite clays (MMT), carbon nano fibers (CNF), polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxanes (POSS), carbon nano tubes (SWNT & MWNT), and graphene are being tested. Alternative natural rubber sources such as Russian dandelion and guayule are being used for manufacturing Tyres.
Fillers such as silica (based on biomass, rice husks & fly ash), starch, treated corn powder, graphene and carbon nano tubes are being tried as alternatives to carbon black and silica. Aramids, hybrid cords (Nylon- Aramid), ultra-high tensile steel cords, including ternary alloy (Cu-Sn-Zn/Co-Cu-Zn) coated steel tyre cord are being considered for improving tyre fatigue and corrosion resistance. To reduce the further burden of green gas emission in the atmosphere, synthetic rubber (SR) manufacturers are also striving to use monomer from bio-source for manufacture of SR. Solvents, too, can be substituted by water-based lubes and sulphur can be replaced partially by peroxides as cross-linking agent. A lot of research is under progress to eliminate uses of zinc oxide in tyre compounding.
The tyre technology will play a vital role in meeting green mobility norms, and research into various materials is elemental in tyre transformation. With the availability of alternative natural sources and cutting-edge technology, the tyre of today can be completely redesigned to score on several parameters of cost, durability, performance and sustainability.