Degussa A.G. is focusing its silica-silane technology for reducing tire rolling resistance-already a success in Europe-on the North American market, claiming it can slice gasoline consumption by 3-5 percent per year.
There is an increasing interest in reducing fuel consumption of vehicles because oil prices already are high and continue to rise, said Degussa's Oliver Klockmann, who is responsible for silane development within the company's Advanced Fillers & Pigments business unit.
One potential way to save fuel is to reduce tire rolling resistance, because it is estimated that up to every fifth tank of gas goes into overcoming that resistance.
Klockmann talked about Degussa's silica-silane technology at ITEC 2006, held in Akron Sept. 12-14, where he presented a paper on the company's latest rubber silane material, VP Si 363. The rubber silane was designed to create a significant increase in tire performance by reducing rolling resistance-the force required to move a vehicle over a surface-by more than 10 percent, he said.
In addition, with more restriction spurring the interest to lower emissions of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds, VP Si 363 also helps cut ethanol emissions by 80 percent, Klockmann said.
``Lower rolling resistance means a car uses less gas, which also means fewer carbon dioxide emissions are produced when fuel is consumed,'' said Hans-Detlef Luginsland, market manager for Degussa Rubber Silanes, North America.
``Degussa's silica-silane technology is not only gentler on the purse but also kinder to the environment and could be an important contribution to the global warming fight.''
Researchers at Advanced Fillers & Pigments developed the silica-silane technology by involving bi-functional organo silicone compounds-also known as organo silanes-to serve as coupling agents.
The organo silanes basically act as a bridge between the tire rubber and the reinforcing silica, which is produced from sand, Degussa said.
The level of rolling resistance also had to be achieved without sacrificing on mileage and safety, the company said.
When the technology was introduced in Europe in the 1990s, it was an immediate success, Klockmann said. People generally drive their vehicles faster in Europe, and the silica-silane materials help provide excellent wet traction, he said.
Rolling resistance traditionally wasn't as big of an issue in the U.S., but as gas prices have escalated, it's become a much more important factor, Klockmann said.
Degussa is working with tire manufacturers supplying the U.S. market to further adapt this technology, he said.
``With gasoline prices up more than 30 percent over the past year, it's important to look at improving the performance of tires, where combinations of new materials can save drivers hundreds of dollars a year,'' Luginsland said.
Degussa isn't done in this area, either, Luginsland said. The next generation of silica and organo silanes for further optimizing tire performance to reduce fuel consumption by an additional 2-3 percent is in the testing stage with several tire manufacturers, he said.