TORONTO — Gratomic Inc., an advanced materials company, is claiming the use of graphene — honeycomb lattice of single layer carbon atoms — in tire tread compounds could improve both tire life and rolling resistance, based on new research.
Gratomic claims, for example, that tires built with graphene showed an increase in tire life by up to 30% while also lowering rolling resistance by a similar percentage.
Toronto-based Gratomic is basing its claim on the results of an 18-month development program that compared the performance of graphene-enhanced tires with premium tires from a globally recognized "household name" brand on a fleet of high-mileage delivery vans in the United Kingdom.
"The initial six-month competitive terrain-testing program has demonstrated the economic benefits and advantages of including Gratomic's graphite surface-modified graphene fillers within tire elastomers," Ian Walters, director of Perpetuus Carbon Technology, an advanced materials company focused on surface-engineered carbon structures.
The graphene-enhanced tires provided "significantly improved" performance when compared not only with mass-market tires but also premium-brand tires, Mr. Walters said.
The results showed improvements in both wet and ice braking of greater that 40%, Mr. Walters said.
"We see these results as a breakthrough in tire technology and safety," Gratomic Chairman and Co-CEO Sheldon Inwentash said. "We look forward to deploying nano-engineered graphenes enhanced passenger and light commercial tires into the global tire market."
Gratomic said adding graphenes to rubber changes the shape of the rheology curve, which influences the cure chemistry and results in changes to the rubber compound.
Gratomic also said the use of graphenes in inner liner compounds can reduce air permeability and can yield a lighter tire as well.
Perpetuus and Gratomic disclosed they are collaborating on furthering research and development into this topic. Gratomic provides graphite to Perpetuus, which then uses its patented plasma process to produce hybrid graphenes (less than 10 layers) to be included in elastomers for building tires.