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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

ORNL-led team uses carbon material derived from tire waste to convert used cooking oil to biofuel

August 21, 2017

Using a novel, reusable carbon material derived from old rubber tires, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)-led research team has developed a simple method to convert used cooking oil into biofuel. The team’s approach combines modified, recovered carbon with sulfuric acids, which is then mixed with free fatty acids in household vegetable oil to produce usable methyl ester biofuel.

The study, done with collaborators Wake Forest University and Georgia Institute of Technology and detailed in Chemistry Select, provides a pathway for inexpensive, environmentally benign and high value-added waste tire-derived products—a step toward large-scale biofuel production, according to ORNL co-author Parans Paranthaman.

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Harvard researchers develop tough, self-healing rubber

August 17, 2017

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new type of rubber that is as tough as natural rubber but can also self-heal. The research is published in Advanced Materials.

Self-healing materials aren’t new—researchers at SEAS have developed self-healing hydrogels, which rely on water to incorporate reversible bonds that can promote healing. However, engineering self-healing properties in dry materials such as rubber has proven more challenging. Rubber is made of polymers often connected by permanent, covalent bonds. While these bonds are incredibly strong, they will never reconnect once broken. In order to make a rubber self-healable, the team needed to make the bonds connecting the polymers reversible, so that the bonds could break and reform.

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U Minn seeking to license new process to produce isoprene from biomass at high yield; green tires

July 02, 2017

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, with colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, have developed a new high-yield process—a hybrid of fermentation followed by thermochemical catalysis—to produce renewable isoprene from biomass.

In the process, fermentation of sugars produces itaconic acid, which undergoes catalytic hydrogenation to produce 3-methyltetrahydrofuran (MTHF). The MTHF then undergoes catalytic dehydra-decyclization to isoprene. This catalytic process dehydrates MTHF to isoprene via several combinations of temperatures, pressures, and space velocities (reactant volumetric flow rate per volume of catalyst) and achieves selectivity of MTHF to isoprene.

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UBC engineers use fiber from recycled tires to develop more resilient concrete

June 16, 2017

University of British Columbia (UBC) engineers have used polymeric scrap tire fibers (STF) to develop a more resilient type of concrete that could be used for concrete structures such as buildings, roads, dams and bridges, while reducing landfill waste.

The researchers experimented with different proportions of STF and other materials used in concrete—cement, sand and water—before finding the optimal mix, which includes 0.35% tire fibers, according to researcher Obinna Onuaguluchi, a postdoctoral fellow in civil engineering at UBC. A paper on the work is published in the journal Materials and Structures.

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Michelin Vision concept wheel/tire: airless, connected, rechargeable, organic

June 14, 2017

At Movin’On 2017, Michelin presented its new Vision concept tire. The concept tire—which combines the functions of wheel and tire—is airless, connected, rechargeable, customizable and organic, is both a wheel and a tire. Michelin Group Executive Vice President of Research and Development Terry Gettys said that the VISION concept is achievable as it represents the convergence of innovations already being explored by the Group’s R&D teams.

The Vision tire combines 4 innovations: an organic tire, developed from bio-sourced, biodegradable materials; a rechargeable tire printed in 3D, according to the level of wear and mobility needs; an airless tire enabled by its alveolar interior architecture; and a connected tire.

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Goodyear shows two concept tires targeting autonomous and shared vehicles; smart tires

March 12, 2017

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company showcased several new and emerging technologies in its latest concept tires at the Geneva International Motor Show. In the evolving mobility ecosystem, defined by the transition to driverless vehicles and shared mobility in urban centers, Goodyear aims to revolutionize the interaction between tires, vehicles and their surroundings.

The new concepts—an evolution of the the spherical-shaped Eagle 360 Urban (earlier post) and the IntelliGrip Urban smart tire—apply emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connectivity.

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Sumitomo using Amyris/Kuraray liquid farnesene rubber in Dunlop tires

March 06, 2017

Amyris, Inc. announced that Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. has adopted Amyris’ liquid farnesene rubber (LFR) as a performance-enhancing additive for use in the production of its latest Dunlop-branded Winter Maxx 02 tires. LFR is a liquid rubber developed by Kuraray Co. using Amyris’s biologically derived Biofene-branded β-farnesene. (Earlier post.)

The Winter Maxx 02 represents the brand’s best tire to date for on-ice and snow-braking performance and for durability. LFR’s performance enhancement will be available across Dunlop’s entire Winter Maxx 02 portfolio of 91 sizes.

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ASTM International launches group to create standards for recovered carbon black (rCB)

January 18, 2017

The ASTM International Board of Directors approved the launch of a new technical committee dedicated to developing standards for the growing field of recovered carbon black (rCB). The Committee on Recovered Carbon Black (rCB) (D36) will focus on creating and updating standards in areas such as: the decomposition of scrap tires, other scrap-rubber components, sustainability, and material characterization.

Carbon black is a form of paracrystalline carbon, produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products, and features a high surface area-to-volume ratio (although lower than that of activated carbon). Carbon black is used as a reinforcing additive in rubber products—notably tires—where tensile and abrasion wear properties are critical. There is also increasing interest in using conductive carbon black additives for Li-ion batteries.

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Cooper Tire and BRDI consortium partners report significant progress on grant to develop guayule polymer for tires

September 20, 2016

At its recent annual meeting in Albany, Calif., the public-private consortium behind the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) grant, “Securing the Future of Natural Rubber—an American Tire and Bioenergy Platform from Guayule,” reported several key advancements emerging from the group’s work over the past year.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, working as the lead agency in the grant, announced that its scientists have reached a key milestone toward the goal of producing, by mid-2017, a concept tire in which all of the natural and synthetic rubber is replaced by guayule-based polymers. Guayule is a shrub that is grown primarily in the southwestern United States and contains rubber that can be processed for use in tires. (Earlier post.)

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New approach for synthetic rubber for degradable tires: converting cyclopentene to polypentenamers

August 22, 2016

A team from the Texas A&M University campus in Qatar (TAMU-Qatar) and Caltech has developed a new way to make synthetic rubber; once this material is discarded, it can be easily degraded back to its chemical building blocks and reused in new tires and other products. The researchers will present their work today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Philadelphia.

According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, nearly 270 million tires were discarded in the US in 2013—more than one tire per adult living in the country. Many of the non-degradable scrap tires get stockpiled in landfills. More than half go on to become tire-derived fuel—shredded scrap tires that get mixed with coal and other materials to help power cement kilns, pulp and paper mills and other plants. But environmentalists are concerned that the emissions from this practice could be adding harmful pollutants to the air.

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