AKRON (July 25, 2012)—Goodyear is researching the use of soybean oil in tires to potentially increase tread life by 10 percent and reduce the tire maker's use of petroleum-based oil by up to 7 million gallons annually.
Goodyear said the use of soybean oil at its Lawton, Okla., tire plant showed improved mixing capabilities in the manufacturing process. Rubber compounds made with soybean oil blend more easily with the silica used in building tires. This can improve plant efficiency and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, Goodyear said.
Prototype tires built in Lawton will be tested at Goodyear's Proving Grounds in San Angelo, Texas, in the coming months. If indicators remain positive, Goodyear said it expects consumers will be able to purchase tires made with soybean oil as early as 2015.
The United Soybean Board is helping fund the Goodyear project with a grant of $500,000 over two years. Goodyear will display a tire made with soybean oil at the Ford Motor Co.'s research center in Dearborn, Mich., as part of a USB-sponsored event, Aug. 6-7.
Meanwhile, Goodyear and DuPont Industrial Biosciences are working to develop BioIsoprene, a bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene. Goodyear also is developing its Air Maintenance Technology that enables tires to remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for external pumps or electronics, which could improve fuel economy, reduce emissions, lengthen tire life and enhance performance, Goodyear said.