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Goodyear uses rice husk ash to produce silica

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AKRON—Goodyear is producing fuel-efficient tires through the use of rice husk waste once destined for landfills.

The Akron-based tire maker said it plans to use ash left over from the burning of rice husks to produce electricity as an “environmentally friendly source of silica” for use in its tires. The company has tested silica derived from rice husk ash over the past two years at its Innovation Center in Akron and said it found the material's impact on tire performance “to be equal to traditional sources,” so now it is negotiating with potential suppliers to purchase rice husk ash silica.

“The use of rice husk ash will provide Goodyear an alternative source of silica while helping reduce the amount of rice husk waste being landfilled,” said Joseph Zekoski, interim chief technical officer. “This illustrates Goodyear's commitment to innovation and to the environment.”

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, each year more than 700 million tons of rice is harvested worldwide, with the disposing of the rice husks posing an environmental challenge. As a result, the husks often are burned to generate electricity and reduce the amount of waste shipped to landfills.

Goodyear said the silica is mixed with rubber in tire treads to increase the rubber's strength and help reduce rolling resistance, improving fuel economy and also having a positive impact on a tire's traction on wet surfaces.

Zekoski said the tire maker's innovation efforts “are focused on making tires more environmentally friendly—in their materials, in their performance and in the manufacturing process.

“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. And we look to renewable resources, including soy bean oil, to replace petroleum-based materials in tires.”

More information about Goodyear's efforts is available on its corporate responsibility website.

Since 2008, Goodyear said it has required all of its manufacturing facilities to maintain zero waste to landfill—”a corporate initiative to reduce our environmental impact by requiring all manufacturing plants to reduce, reuse and recycle manufacturing waste.”