CORVALLIS, Ore. (July 24, 2009)—A low-cost product made from tree and plant fibers could partially replace silica as a reinforcement material in tires, according to wood science researchers at Oregon State University.
Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC)—a micrometer-sized crystalline cellulose manufactured cheaply by acid hydrolysis of cellulose—can replace up to 12 percent of the silica used in conventional tire manufacture, said Kaicheng Li, an associate professor of wood science and engineering at the OSU College of Forestry, and graduate student Wen Bai. MCC reduces the amount of energy needed to compound the tire rubber and improves heat resistance while retaining tensile strength, Li and Bai said.
MCC-reinforced rubber composites have comparable wet traction with conventional tire tread compounds, yet also have lower rolling resistance and better fuel economy than conventional tire treads in warm climates and in the summer months, they said.
A study of the OSU research was published in July 2009 in the professional journal Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing.