SHANGHAI — The developers of the "Liquid Gold" rubber-mixing technology used by Qingdao Sailun Group Co. Ltd. for its advanced tire lines have formed a partnership with synthetic rubber supplier Arlanxeo Performance Elastomers to evaluate potential downstream applications for the technology,
Ecombine Advanced Materials Co. Ltd. of Huangdao District, Qingdao and EVE Rubber Institute of Sifang District, Qindao disclosed their partnership with Arlanxeo on March 10.
Compared with traditional rubber mixing methods, liquid-phase mixing technology allows rubber compounding materials to be mixed "fully uniformly" under continuous processing and can increase the silica loading in compounds. Ecombine claims this yields performance improvements in tires while also reducing energy consumption by eliminating multiple steps of traditional rubber mixing.
EVE Rubber Institute, an advanced public research platform committed to the application and development of new rubber materials, is credited with conducting the original research that underpins the liquid-phase process. It holds numerous patents on the technology.
Ecombine focuses on ways to industrialize the compound-mixing of synthetic rubbers, specialized carbon blacks and high dispersive silica with ATCM technology. It supplies a rubber master batch called EVEC (Eco-Visco-Elastomer-Composites) to Sailun.
This process provides a more consistent rubber compound mix, according to Sailun, which is employing liquid-phase rubber mixing at its plant in Tay Ninh Province, Vietnam, under the EcoPoint3 moniker.
Sailun claims the technology can deliver "the right rubber balance for exceptional performance" regardless of the type of tire.
Sailun is employing the technology initially in the production of its ERange EV tire line for electric vehicles and for some solid industrial tires sold by its Maxam Tire affiliate.
Sailun claims its ERange product exhibits performance improvements in three key attributes critical to the performance of an EV tire — rolling resistance, wear and wet-grip performance — that traditionally are considered trade-off areas.
In addition, Sailun has unveiled plans to establish a "functional new materials" group designed to improve the efficiency of tire production within the group.
The plan, budgeted at $345 million, foresees the construction of a plant in the Qingdao Dongjiakou Chemical Industry Park with rated annual capacity of 500,000 metric tons of functional new materials once fully on stream.
Ecombine claims tires produced with rubber generated by the liquid-phase process use 36% less energy per tire compared with traditional compounding.
In addition, Ecombine claims the process results in a reduction of up to 17.6 pounds of CO2 emissions in a car tire and 79 pounds in a truck tire due to the increased use of silica — a non-fossil energy source — instead of carbon black.
The Haag, Netherlands-based Arlanxeo, a subsidiary of energy and chemical concern Saudi Aramco, is considered the world's largest producer of synthetic rubber.