MILAN, Italy — Bridgestone Corp. and Versalis A.G., an Italian materials supplier, have joined forces to co-develop synthetic rubber with advanced properties for high-performance tires.
The companies signed a joint development agreement recently covering the research, production and supply of new elastomer grades, including styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), for producing "differentiated" tires.
As part of the project, the R&D divisions of both companies will collaborate, using an "open innovation model" to develop technologies and new elastomer grades, the companies said.
Ravenna, Italy-based Versalis will leverage the expertise of its research centers in Ravenna and Ferrara, Italy, while Bridgestone will use its European technical center near Rome.
"This agreement combines our technological knowledge with that of Bridgestone ... to accelerate the development of grades and applications in tires improving their performance, starting from raw material," Versalis CEO Adriano Alfani said.
The two sides will explore "supply chain synergies" in a "high-value technical and commercial collaboration," he added.
"At Bridgestone, we know that ground-breaking innovation and sustainable mobility can't be achieved without collaboration," Emilio Tiberio, COO and chief technical officer of Bridgestone Europe Middle East India and Africa, said.
"We are pleased to strengthen our existing partnership with Versalis and believe that the technology we co-create will be a differentiator for our future products," he added without elaborating on potential new products or the agreement's duration or development timetable.
Versalis, a unit of Italy's Eni S.p.A. energy conglomerate, is considered among the leaders in the production of elastomers and synthetic latex for a variety of industries, including tires and industrial/mechanical rubber goods.
Its elastomer portfolio includes emulsion and solution SBR, butadiene rubber, EPDM rubber, nitrile rubber, thermoplastic elastomers and various latexes. It operates processing plants in Ravenna, Ferrara and Porto Torres, Italy, and Grangemouth, England.
This is Bridgestone's second R&D pact with Versalis covering elastomer development.
In 2018 the companies formed a strategic partnership to develop technology to commercialize guayule in the agricultural, sustainable rubber and renewable chemical sectors.
The partnership combines Bridgestone's leadership in guayule agricultural and production technologies with Versalis' expertise in commercial-scale process engineering and market development for renewables, Bridgestone said.