Hankook ready for high performance tyre market

Hankook ready for high performance tyre market

By Sharad Matade:

As a part of its efforts to develop synthetic rubber technologies for high performance tyres, Hankook Tire recently signed the second memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Arlanxeo. Under the agreement, both companies will jointly study the development of new high-performance synthetic rubber grades and applications, which will increase the performance of tyres from early stages of product development.


Prior to the second MoU, Hankook Tire and Arlanxeo formed the partnership in 2008 with the supply of raw materials such as solution styrene butadiene rubber (S-SBR) and neodymium performance butadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) and the partnership led Hankook Tire to gain market share in the European market. In 2014 the first MOU was signed to expand and collaborate on the development of core synthetic rubber solutions for high-performance tyres.
The second MoU will help the global premium tyre making company to develop the next generation functionalised solution styrene butadiene rubber(S-SBR) and functionalized butadiene rubber (BR) said Hak Joo Kim, Vice President of Hankook Tire R&D Material Department. “Goals are to improve the fuel efficiency of high performance tyres and to simultaneously enhance grip and wear performance,” said Hak Joo Kim.
Apart from the partnership, Hankook Tire is also working with various companies for synthetic rubber technologies and educational institutions to develop new technologies. In the interview the Hankook Tire executive shares the company’s strategies on R&D, tyres for electric vehicles and the role on natural rubber in future.

What led Hankook Tire to sign the MOU with Lanxess in 2014, and what were the achievements?

Hak Joo Kim: The high performance tyre market is continuously growing, especially in the European market. In order to secure the performance and quality of our flagship products in such a situation, Hankook Tire signed an MOU with the world’s largest synthetic rubber producer, Arlanxeo. We aimed to apply Arlanxeo’s development grade and joint evaluation system in earlier stages of our new product development.
In fact, we have successfully applied Arlanxeo’s new solution styrene butadiene rubber (S-SBR) and neodymium butadiene rubber (Nd-BR), to our new products at a proper time. This has led Hankook Tire to expand its OE supply to global major car makers and receive the highest ratings in tyre evaluations from major European magazines.

What was emphasised in the second MOU?

We extended the MOU with Arlanxeo to meet demands for performance improvements in the rapidly changing tire market. With the 2nd MOU, Hankook Tire focuses on strengthening collaboration in developing the next generation functionalized solution styrene butadiene rubber(S-SBR) and functionalized butadiene rubber (BR). Goals are to improve the fuel efficiency of high performance tires and to simultaneously enhance grip and wear performance.

Besides the joint development with Arlanxeo, are there any further R&D being conducted for the development of synthetic rubber technology?

As the number of Electric Vehicles is increasing in the auto market, the level of demand for tyre performance is also getting higher. Consequently, new material development, especially new synthetic rubber, to minimise trade-off between major functions of tyre such as fuel efficiency, wear, and grip performance has become more crucial.

Accordingly, Hankook Tire is not only partnering with Arlanxeo, but also signing a JDA (Joint Development Agreement), NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), etc. with companies that traditionally have competitiveness in synthetic rubber manufacture and development such as Japanese synthetic rubber manufacturers and emerging Korean synthetic rubber manufacturers.
Moreover, through open research activities with leading global universities such as Virginia Tech (US), Qingdao University of Science and Technology (China), and KAIST (Korea), Hankook Tire participating and investing in developing and securing fundamental technologies.

What impact would natural rubber have on future tyres? What kind of R&D is being conducted to prepare for such changes?

The importance of the natural rubber in the truck and bus radial tyre market, where tyre durability is most important, is expected to continue in the future. This is also the same in the PCR tyre market, in which the increase of autonomous and electric tyres calls for improvements in tyre durability under severe conditions.
Therefore, to meet PCR tyes’ various requirements while maintaining natural rubber’s benefits, various research is being undergone to convert natural rubber and tyre fillers (carbon and silica) into a master batch. This will enhance dispersibility and anti-abrasion performance. Other basic researches, such as performance improvement through natural rubber’s chemical modification, are also being conducted.
Hankook Tire is also putting effort into improving the sustainability of natural rubber. Currently, we are participating in a joint research with 11 global tyre companies on SNR(Sustainable Natural Rubber) related issues, which was chosen as one of the 12 TIPs(Tire Industry Project). Hankook Tire has always actively engaged in SNR-related activities, for instance, announcing the SNR-I (Sustainable Natural Rubber Initiative) Self Declaration in October 2017. (SNR-I is a sustainability issue response guideline recommended by IRSG)

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