AKRON (June 15, 2015) — Goodyear plans to start using silica derived from rice husk ash — a process it's been developing the past two years — as a reinforcing agent in tires it's making at its plant in Pulandian, China.
Goodyear will source the material from Yihai Food and Oil Industry — aka Yihai Kerry — of Shanghai, China, for tires to be sold in China, while also negotiating agreements with additional suppliers elsewhere.
Financial details of the agreements are not being released.
Goodyear has tested silica derived from rice husk ash over the past two years at its Innovation Center in Akron and found its impact on tire performance to be equal to traditional sources.
“Sustainability is a cornerstone of Goodyear's innovation efforts,” Goodyear Chairman and CEO Richard Kramer said. “This new silica benefits the environment in many ways: It reduces waste going into landfills; it requires less energy to produce; and it helps make tires more fuel efficient.”
Goodyear noted that disposing of the rice husks is a growing environmental challenge, owing to the harvesting annually of more 700 million metric tons of rice, according to data from the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization.
As a result, husks often are burned to generate electricity and reduce the amount of waste shipped to landfills. While this ash has been converted to silica for several years, only the more recently developed processes yielded a silica of a high enough grade to use in tires, Goodyear said.
Silica is used as a reinforcing agent in tire tread compounds. Compared with carbon black, a traditional reinforcing agent for tires, silica reduces rolling resistance. Lower rolling resistance, in turn, improves a car's fuel economy. It also can have a positive impact on a tire's traction on wet surfaces.