AKRON—Goodyear is taking a step in the direction of sustainable business practices as the company said it has reached a supply agreement with Yihai Food and Oil Industry in China for silica derived from rice husk ash.
The Akron-based tire maker said in a news release that it will begin using the silica this year in a consumer tire that will be manufactured in its factory in Pulandian, China, and sold in China.
Financial details of the agreement with Yihai were not being released.
Goodyear has tested silica derived from rice husk ash over the past two years at its Innovation Center in Akron and found its impact on tire performance “to be equal to traditional sources,” according to the release.
Richard J. Kramer, chairman and CEO of Goodyear, said in the release that the new silica “benefits the environment in many ways. It reduces waste going into landfills; it requires less energy to produce; and it helps make tires more fuel efficient."
Silica is used as a reinforcing agent in tire tread compounds. Compared to carbon black, a traditional reinforcing agent for tires, silica reduces rolling resistance.
Goodyear, citing United Nations data, said more than 700 million tons of rice are harvested worldwide each year, and disposing of the husks “is an environmental challenge.” As a result, the company said, “husks often are burned to generate electricity and reduce the amount of waste shipped to landfills.”
While the ash has been converted to silica for several years, it's only recently that technological advancements have helped create a silica of a sufficiently high grade to use in tires, Goodyear said.