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Silica’s ‘green’ challenge

 AS the Green concept gains momentum in global tyre industry, many traditional ingredients are being replaced by eco-friendly materials, though they may be costlier many times. Stricter fuel economy regulations are being introduced and tyre companies are now keen to produce eco-friendly tyres. Silica instead of carbon black as a reinforcing filler is one of the major developments for green revolution in the tyre industry.Bill-fish

Though tyre companies have started using silica as reinforcing filler instead of carbon black, the usage of carbon silica is quite larger than silica as a filler and this poses a greater challenge on technical and business fronts.

“The challenge, if there is one, is the transition tyre manufacturers must undertake to convert to processing silica instead of carbon black. Silica is typically used in combination with silane coupling agents to produce rubber formulations which can negatively impact production rates and energy usage because it typically takes longer to process these than carbon black rubber formulations,” Bill Fish, Global Segment Manager at PPG Industries, told Polymers & Tyre Asia.

“Additionally, the use of silica and silane technology can be challenging for older mixing equipment, due in part to the need to maintain certain temperatures to drive the silanisation reaction. Finally, the silanisation reaction itself can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that need to be monitored and, in many cases, addressed through the installation of scrubbers or other equipment,” adds Fish.

Recently, Goodyear Tire announced that it started using PPG’s next-generation silica, Agilon performance silica, in its EfficientGrip SUV tyres to enhance fuel-efficiency of the tyre.

For more than a decade, Goodyear researchers have been working with PPG Industries to examine the effects of chemically treated silica on tyre performance. “The goal was to further improve rolling resistance without having a detrimental effect on traction in wet conditions. In Goodyear’s new EffcientGrip SUV tyre 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,” Goodyear said in a statement.

“PPG has significant technical relationships with many of the world’s tyre makers, including Goodyear, which have a tremendous influence on the products we bring to market,” says Fish.

By Sharad Matade

(Full text in PTA August/September issue)

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