The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced Monday it will begin using ash left over from the burning of rice husks to produce electricity and an environmentally friendly source of silica for use in its tires.
Silica is mixed with rubber in tire treads to increase the rubber’s strength and help reduce rolling resistance, which improves fuel economy and can improve a tire’s traction on wet surfaces. Goodyear says it has tested silica derived from rice husk ash over the past two years at its Innovation Center in Akron, Ohio and found its impact on tire performance to be equal to that of traditional sources. The company says the use of the ash will provide it with an alternative source of silica while helping reduce the amount of rice husk waste being landfilled — it is now negotiating with potential suppliers to purchase rice husk ash silica — which is already used as an additive in concrete and cement — for use in its tires.
Each year, more than 700 million tons of rice is harvested worldwide, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, and disposing of the rice husks is an environmental challenge. As a result, husks often are burned to generate electricity and reduce the amount of waste shipped to landfills.
“Goodyear’s innovation efforts are focused on making tires more environmentally friendly — in their materials, in their performance and in the manufacturing process,” said Joseph Zekoski, Interim Chief Technical Officer. “For example, we continue to explore ways to increase the fuel efficiency of tires. We strive to help consumers keep their tires operating optimally, through innovations such as Air Maintenance Technology (AMT). And we look to renewable resources, including soybean oil, to replace petroleum-based materials in tires.”
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Goodyear is also among 12 industry leaders that make up the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics, which earlier this month unveiled its Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment, a practical tool for assessing a product’s social impacts throughout its life cycle.