HOUSTON (Nov. 4, 2005) — ExxonMobil Chemical Co. plans to double production capacity at a plant in Texas for a specialty elastomer it has been developing in partnership with Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd.
The new material, Exxpro brominated isobutylene para-methylstyrene copolymer, offers tire makers an alternative material for inner liners that allows a thinner inner liner — and hence lower weight — with improved air-retention qualities.
ExxonMobil said that prototype Exxpro polymer liners made with nanocomposites have been processed successfully into lighter-weight commercial truck tires in a commercial tire plant. Results indicate several benefits, including reductions in tire cure time, liner gauge thickness, inflation pressure retention and intra-carcass pressure, as well as more than a 20-percent improvement in tire durability as expressed by "mileage to failure" ratings.
ExxonMobil and Yokohama have been working together exclusively on the material technology since May 2004.
ExxonMobil said the expansion at its Baytown, Texas, plant will be based on a “multimillion-dollar” investment and recent operational improvements. ExxonMobil did not disclose the plant's capacity.
"This multimillion-dollar investment in Exxpro capacity will support the development of new, higher air barrier inner liner technologies that target both passenger and commercial vehicle tires," said Art Sullivan, Global Butyl Polymers vice president.