Green tires? In 5 years !
Is it possible to build tires from entirely renewable sources, containing a small amount of fossil materials? This is the goal of tires manufacturers: "green" tires. At Continental they are working hard in this direction, using rapeseed oils instead of fossil oils and polyester with rayon to reinforce the body of the tire. Synthetic and natural rubber are being replaced by increasing quantities of recycled rubber from scrapped tires, but according to Boris Mengell, in charge for Materials and Process Engineering at Continental, "nowadays, not all tire manufacturing materials can be replaced by equivalent renewable ones, unless we sacrifice tire braking performance or rolling resistance".
Rubber extraction from dandelion in perspective can replace the one from trees, as well as the carbon black can be replaced by silicic acid, in order to reach 20% (in terms of weight) of our tire as made by "natural" materials.
Despite the big progress, Boris Mergell is, however, skeptical about being successful in short term: "You will need at least another five years for the first green tires".