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Keywords of this article:  automotive 
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The EfficientGrip Performance prototype with Electric Drive Technology.
The EfficientGrip Performance prototype with Electric Drive Technology.

To meet the higher requirements of drivers, passengers as well as automakers, leading tire manufacturers continue to upgrade the performance of their products through innovative technologies and materials, and provide more safe, comfortable and sustainable driving experience.

New tire for electric vehicle to handle mounds of torque

Goodyear testing reveals that traditional tires can wear out up to 30% faster on electric vehicles due to the powerful, instant torque from electric motors and the additional vehicle weight from heavy battery packs.

Therefore, Goodyear is working with automakers to introduce the Electric Drive Technology next year to address the unique performance requirements of this growing vehicle segment. The EfficientGrip Performance prototype is Goodyear’s latest step in this effort.

In addition to tire durability requirements, automakers are pressing for enhanced rolling resistance on electric vehicles. Meanwhile, increasing range is a high priority for consumers due to an underdeveloped electric recharging infrastructure in most countries. Quiet and comfort from tires are other considerations as, at low speeds, electric vehicles generate as little as half the amount of noise as traditional vehicles.

To address these challenges, the EfficientGrip Performance prototype with Electric Drive Technology offers the following performance solutions:

  • Extended mileage from innovative tread design: The treads thinner sipes (small channels) allow for a larger rubber contact patch on the road surface than traditional radial grooves. With more rubber on the road, the tire can better cope with high levels of torque while maintaining high performance in wet conditions. The tread design also prevents sound waves from entering its grooves, reducing interior and exterior tire noise. 
  • High-Load-Carrying construction: The tire cavity shape has been optimized to support the additional vehicle weight from batteries while maintaining an optimal tread footprint for high performance.
  • Extended driving range: The material properties of the tread compound have been tuned for ultra-low rolling resistance to extend the vehicle range while coping with high levels of torque. In addition, the sidewall has been designed to reduce aerodynamic drag and the profile yields less rotating mass, resulting in reduced energy consumption.

Flexible wheel with patented technology

Michelin, in partnership with Maxion Wheels, is reinventing the wheel to help eliminate the road-based damage to tires and rims by adopting the innovative Michelin Acorus Technology.
Exploded view of the Maxion Flexible Wheel. (L-R): tire, Acorus rubber flange, Maxion wheel body, Acorus rubber flange, and optional wheel cover or trim.
The patented new technology, developed by Michelin and Maxion Wheels for the passenger car wheel market, incorporates two flexible rubber flanges mounted on a special wheel body to create a flexible wheel that improves the ride and comfort and also absorbs impacts from potholes and curbs.

For example, when the Maxion Flexible Wheel hits a pothole, the Michelin Acorus Technology flange flexes and protects the tire and the wheel.

The new wheel is compatible with all tires on the market and comprises an alloy rim – which is narrower than normal, two rubber flanges and an optional cosmetic insert to protect the alloy wheel.

Talking about this new innovation, Michelin Chief Operating Officer, Florent Menegaux said: "Car wheels have been getting bigger and bigger, as they contribute to making cars look more premium. However, the resulting low profile tires with short sidewalls are much more susceptible to damage on today’s deteriorating roads with myriad potholes."

In tests with a 285/30R21 tire driven through a pothole (80mm deep, 700mm long, 70° impact angle), the standard rim version punctured the tire at 28kph whereas the flexible wheel with the Michelin Acorus Technology did not puncture, or sustain damage at any speed.

In addition to damage reduction, safety and improved mobility, the Maxion Flexible Wheel helps overcome other shortcomings associated with low profile tires with short sidewalls – comfort and noise levels are both improved due to the flexible rubber flange which sits between the wheel and the tire.

There is also an environmental benefit in using Michelin Acorus Technology. The flexible wheel is designed to work with any brand of tire, including low rolling resistance tires, meaning lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy.

Ground-breaking hybrid polymer to bond rubber with resins

Bridgestone Corporation announced that it has successfully developed the world’s first polymer to bond rubber and resins at the molecular level.
Newly developed High Strength Rubber (HSR).
The newly developed polymer, called High Strength Rubber (HSR), is a hybrid material to bond synthetic rubber components such as butadiene and isoprene, with resin components such as ethylene, at the molecular level by using Bridgestone’s proprietary novel gadolinium (Gd) catalyst (via copolymerization).

According to Bridgestone, this new polymer boasts unprecedented durability with crack resistance that is over five times higher, abrasion resistance that is more than 2.5 times higher, and tensile strength that is more than 1.5 times higher than natural rubber, which itself has higher destruction resistance than common synthetic rubber.

As a result, it is able to combine the pliability of rubber with the toughness of resin. This breakthrough was achieved by further evolving the Gd catalyst technologies used to synthesize the polyisoprene rubber announced earlier.

As HSR boasts levels of durability and abrasion resistance that eclipse those of natural rubber, it is a promising next-generation tire material with the potential to create tires that achieve the required levels of performance while using fewer materials.

Bridgestone therefore anticipate that HSR will be a powerful asset for the accomplishment of the goal of working towards 100% sustainable materials set for 2050 in the Bridgestone Group's Long-term Environmental Vision. The company also intends to actively examine the possibility of utilizing HSR in products other than tires.

Innovative tire device reduces road noise by 75%

Based on the new Toyo Silent Technology which solves the issue of sound that is transmitted from the tire to the interior of a vehicle, Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd. has developed a new device that effectively reduces resonance in tire cavities, a source of interior noise.

Toyo Tire & Rubber has developed a new device to reduce road noise. Tires can cause two kinds of noise at the time of driving a vehicle. One is road noise. It is the noise that is generated by air filled inside the tire, being vibrated by the tire receiving external input (the road surface), and is also called tire cavity resonance. These vibrations are transmitted to the vehicle interior as noise via the axle.

The other is pattern noise. When sound generated between tires and the road surface is transmitted to the in-vehicle space via the body and windows, it becomes pattern noise. The level of pattern noise is determined by the shape of the tire grounding surface.

Toyo Tire & Rubber aimed to reduce the road noise this time. At present, one popular method for reducing tire cavity noise is the idea of internally mounting material that has a sound-absorbing effect, which was implemented in the tire industry as a leading technology.

However, Toyo Tire & Rubber focused on the airflow inside a tire, so the company incorporated unique approach to reduce noise by utilizing the flow of air.

By carrying out fluid simulations many times, the company succeeded in visualizing air moving inside a rotating tire and found that there are two flows. One is in the circumferential direction (the direction of the rotation), and the other is in the vertical direction (the direction toward the center of the tire).

To reduce cavity resonance and, thus, road noise, Toyo Tire & Rubber developed a device made of polyurethane and attached it along the inner circumference of a tire.

The device consists of a porous film and 16 cylindrical sponges. Each sponge weighs 10-12g (mass), and the polyurethane has a higher durability than commonly-used industrial polyurethanes.

The sponges pull the porous film in the vertical direction to form the shape of an arch in the aim of increasing the area in which the resonance sound contacts the porous film and sponges.

When sound passes through a hole, its volume diminishes. When resonance sound passes through the porous film or cylindrical sponge, part of the sound turns into frictional heat. The rest of the sound, which does not turn into frictional heat, stays near the hole as if it is swirling. As a result, the sound does not spread, and its volume decreases.

The results of testing showed that tire cavity noise on a passenger vehicle traveling using tires implemented with the new device was notably reduced to a maximum level of -12 dB in the frequency range of 200 Hz to 250 Hz. This is equivalent to a noise reduction of 75%, according to a calculation made by the company.

It is expected that the new device will be applied to tires to be released in early 2019, providing drivers and passengers with a comfortable space with greater silence.

Rubber processing chemicals market to witness a CAGR of 4.9%

The rubber processing chemicals market is set to grow from its market value of US$3.5 billion in 2017 to over US$5.3 billion by 2025, witnessing a CAGR of 4.9%, according to the latest study by Global Market Insights, Inc.

Tire application takes the lead 

Global rubber processing chemicals market will be primarily driven by rapidly growing automotive industry. Tire was the largest application segment for rubber processing chemicals market in 2017 and is forecast to grow with the highest CAGR due to escalating automobile sales across the globe.

In 2016, the global tire market volume crossed 3.4 billion units and is expected to reach 3.66 billion units by 2020. However, the tire industry is shifting from conventional tires to green tires. This shift in the industry is anticipated to curb the rubber processing chemicals market size in near future, comments the report.

Meanwhile, positive growth from the construction industry is also likely to help the rubber processing chemical market to grow further. Product is used in the construction industry in roofing materials, floor covering, sound insulators and sealants.

Accelerator and anti-degradant experience high growth

In 2017, accelerator product segment generated revenue over US$1.5 billion in rubber processing chemicals market and it is projected to experience the highest CAGR during the forecast period. These accelerators are used to accelerate the production speed, contributing to fast and economical production of good quality rubber.

Anti-degradant rubber chemicals are also likely to experience significant growth. Anti-degradant rubber chemicals improve the rubber's resistance to the effects of sunlight, oxidation, ozone, mechanical stress and heat.

Regarding regional markets, Asia Pacific is expected to grow with the highest CAGR over the forecast time frame 2018-2025. Automobile is the major end-user in rubber chemicals market and 40% of automobile production is done in China, due to which Asia Pacific registered highest product demand in 2017 with holding more than 60% market share.

For North America, the rubber processing market will grow with a prominent CAGR in near future, owing to the presence of major automobile manufacturers in the US.

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