PITTSBURGH—The U.S. Department of Energy is providing funding for a $1.25 million collaborative project between PPG Industries and Bridgestone Americas Inc. to improve fuel efficiency of truck and bus radial tires.
The goal of the project is to use PPG's Agilon performance silica platform in the tires and deliver prototypes to the DOE that help trucks and buses achieve fuel-efficiency improvements of 4 to 6 percent while maintaining or improving tear strength and tread wear, the companies said.
Research and development work for the project will be completed at PPG's Monroeville, Pa., facility. The size of the DOE's contribution was not disclosed.
Agilon is chemically modified precipitated silica that can improve the performance of rubber products in which it is used, according to PPG. Testing indicates that the chemical modifications used to produce Agilon performance silica make the silica more compatible with the natural rubber typically used in truck and bus radial tire applications. This will allow the silica to mix better with rubber, enabling better tire performance than possible with conventional silicas.
Goodyear and PPG have worked together the past few years on developing a version of PPG's Agilon silica that it is using in a limited range of EfficientGrip SUV tires sold in Latin America.
“The DOE funding validates what our preliminary research already has shown—that Agilon performance silica has significant potential as a next-generation filler to help increase truck tire fuel efficiency,” said Anup Jain, PPG vice president, specialty coatings and materials.
According to DOE reports, heavy-duty vehicles comprise only 4 percent of all vehicles on U.S. roads but consume about 20 percent of all fuel. PPG estimates that if even a quarter of all tractor-trailers on the road improved fuel efficiency by 4 percent, the trucking industry would reduce its consumption of diesel fuel by 750 million gallons annually, saving nearly $2 billion and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by nearly 8 million metric tons.
“Our partnership with PPG was created for our customers,” said Kurt Danielson, president, Bridgestone Commercial Group, “We are constantly working to deliver innovative solutions that not only align with our company's environmental mission but also will carry cost saving benefits for our truck and bus radial tire customers.”
Using 2005 data as a baseline, the company's midterm target is to achieve a 35 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.