STOCKHOLM—Nynas A.B. is preparing to capitalize on tire industry demands for more efficient process oils.
The Swedish firm recently opened a new lab to enhance its capabilities in the tire and rubber industries. Located in Nynashamn, Sweden, the new lab is located at its existing manufacturing footprint in the area. It features an intermeshing 1.5-liter rubber mixer and an open mill, as well as instruments for measuring viscosity, curing behavior, physical and dynamic properties, aging, abrasion and set.
Financial details were not disclosed, but Herbert Fruhmann, Nynas' market manager for tire oils, said the lab will allow Nynas to help customers with in-house applications, mix and compound rubber, conduct tests and develop formulations. It also speeds up the overall development process.
"In the past what we have been doing is send samples to officially recognized labs," Fruhmann said. "But now we can also do our own in-house research and development. We can talk to the customer on a really technical level. We can support our arguments with actual data that we can prove and have measured on our own. It helps with customer discussions."
There has been opportunity for new process oils in the tire industry in the wake of a 2010 European Union law that banned aromatic extract oils. Fruhmann said the reason for the law was because those kinds of oils had been found to cause cancer.
This opened the door for naphthenic oils to break into many industries, including tires. While aromatic oils are still in use in other regions of the world, Fruhmann said other countries could adopt laws similar to the EU, with China being the closest and India about three to five years away. Either of these countries adopting any sort of ban on aromatic oils would be a game-changer, according to Fruhmann.
Either way, the EU law already has had an impact on the tire industry in China. Fruhmann said even though aromatic oils still are used in tires produced there, those that are to be exported into the EU must comply with the law.
A standard car tire contains anywhere from 500 to 600 grams of oil, Fruhmann said.
Another key trend driving growth in the industry is the influx of new investment from foreign tire manufacturing players into the U.S. Giti, Hankook, Kumho, Yokohama and Continental all have recently opened or are getting set to open new tire manufacturing sites set to drive up the country's tire capacity.
Each site will have a large demand for processed oils. Fruhmann said a tire manufacturing site utilizes thousands of pounds of oil per year.
"They want to have a reliable supply chain," Fruhmann said. "The worst thing that could happen to a tire plant is if they have to stop production because of shortages to raw materials."