HYOGO, Japan —Toyo Tire Corp., in partnership with a leading Japanese university, has developed catalysts that it claims can convert carbon dioxide into butadiene, which can be used to synthesize butadiene rubber, a key raw material for tires.
Toyo's discovery is the result of seven years of collaborative work with the University of Toyama, which Toyo said has been researching ways to reduce carbon emissions through the development of high-performance catalysts for recycling carbon dioxide (CO2).
Toyo has been collaborating since 2016 with Professor Noritatsu Tsubaki, Faculty of Engineering, the University of Toyama, to find ways to replace petroleum-derived materials with CO2 as carbon resources for the production of butadiene rubber.
Being able to synthesize butadiene from CO2 — one of the key causes of climate change — should contribute significantly to minimizing "environmental load" in the production process, compared with the conventional method of using petroleum-derived materials, Toyo said.
The company did not elaborate on the ratio of CO2 consumption to butadiene output.
Furthermore, using CO2 as starting material for the production of butadiene rubber can yield a more positive image in terms of the life cycle assessment of tires in the future.
The composition ratios of raw materials used for automobile tires varies by category, and petroleum-derived synthetic rubbers including butadiene units — styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and butadiene rubber (BR) — account for approximately 30% of raw materials use overall, Toyo said.
Going forward, Toyo said it intends to proceed with the development of a catalyst system for mass production by the end of the 2020s and foster research into finding replacements for rubbers and fillers with sustainable materials to make a meaningful contribution to sustainability.
Research into these catalysts ties into Toyo Tire's broader work toward establishing a circular process of its products in society by using naturally derived and other sustainable materials as possible for rubber, the primary raw material for automobile tires, and other component materials.
Toyo Tire has declared in the past its target for the use of sustainable materials is 40% of all materials used by 2030.
Promoting the application of this new technology will help drive a reduction in greenhouse gas production, Toyo said, which supports the firm's efforts to contribute to the realization of a sustainably mobile society.