NEW GLASGOW, Nova Scotia-A diamond-like granule mixed into rubber during the retreading process gives a tire the same traction on ice as a studded tire without causing road wear and pollution, according to a Canadian retreader.
Passenger tire retreader Eastern Tire Service Ltd. in New Glasgow has produced and exported Green Diamond Tires (GDT) for several years. Owner Gerald Holmes said each year brings a larger demand for the tires. He exports to Uruguay, Iceland, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guatemala and the U.S.
Once consumers try the tires, they usually remain loyal to the product, Mr. Holmes said.
``We have people up here who say that as long as they're available, they'll never drive without them again,'' he said.
New Industries Ltd. of Reykjavik, Iceland, has owned the worldwide patent for GDT technology since 1995.
Offered as an alternative to studded tires, Green Diamond Tires have a measured road wear of approximately 14 times less than studded tires, causing 93 percent less road wear overall, according to the company's Web site.
Green Diamond Tires are designed to work as all-season tires, eliminating the need to change tires twice each year.
``And they work good on wet pavement, too,'' Mr. Holmes said.
As a tire wears, the silicium carbide/aluminum oxide granules are brought to the surface to provide traction, Mr. Holmes said. ``It's much better than a stud that loses its original characteristics over time,'' he said. ``And it won't pierce your tire like a stud can.''
Compared with studded tires, Mr. Holmes said Green Diamond Tires greatly reduce air and noise pollution.
The tires are available only as retreads and cost about as much as studded tires, Mr. Holmes said.
Although usage of GDT in the U.S. is minimal, Mr. Holmes said he distributes to a dealership in New York that orders large volumes of the product, and he also markets Green Diamond Tires in Canada.
In Sweden, demand is so great that one retread shop produces between 3,000 and 4,000 Green Diamond Tires a week, he said.
``We don't really sell too much outside of New York (in the U.S.),'' he said. ``These tires sell well where there's a lot of black ice.''