Dow Corning Search for Technologies to Reduce Fuel Consumption

Dow Corning scientists are stepping up their search for a technology solution that will help improve fuel efficiency for millions of drivers worldwide. ‘Green’ tires are already in widespread use on cars, particularly in Europe, but Dow Corning is now working on a technology solution that will make it possible for these tires to also be used on trucks and road tankers.

“In the year 2007 itself, there were around 20 million trucks[1] worldwide, so this is potentially a very big opportunity for us” said Dow Corning’s Thierry Materne, global industry director for coating, reinforced plastics & tire. “Dow Corning developed processes and technology that contributed to make it possible for millions of car drivers to get the benefits of ‘green’ tires. Now we want to help truck drivers get the same advantages.”

Dow Corning scientists have joined forces with counterparts at Rhodia Corporation to work on this challenge. The two companies announced late 2008, an agreement where they will collaborate for the development and commercialization of new silica/ silane products to support the tire industry’s drive for energy efficient, safer motoring. Their first activity will be to develop a way of introducing silica into natural rubber, covering applications such as truck and winter tires.

The use of ‘green’ tires in cars produced in Europe is quite prevalent and their use is growing in Asia and North America. “There is a growing interest among motorists for more sustainable driving but we could well see interest in these tires increase as drivers look for ways of keeping all their costs down in the current economic climate” said Materne.

The Dow Corning scientists will be aiming to repeat their success of a few years ago where they developed a revolutionary technology called Phase Transfer Catalysis (PTC) ‘green’ tires can be made more affordably through a reduction in both the amount of materials consumed and the costs in making silane coupling agents.

Studies have shown that ‘green’ tires[2] give better traction on wet and icy surfaces and can reduce stopping distances by as much as 15 percent, making the roads safer for everyone. Tire-rolling resistance is reduced by up to 20 percent compared to an equivalent standard tire, which reduces vehicle fuel consumption by up to 5 percent. Widespread use of these green tires could save millions of barrels of oil per year and reduce carbon dioxide (C02) emissions significantly.

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