TOKYO—Bridgestone Corp. is claiming it has discovered a way to bond rubber and resins at the molecular level into a hybrid polymer, a development that could lead to reducing the amount of polymeric materials needed in tires.
The new polymer is claimed to offer "unprecedented durability" with crack-resistance more than five times greater, abrasion resistance more than 2.5 times greater and tensile strength more than 1.5 times greater than natural rubber, Bridgestone said.
The newly developed "high strength rubber" is described as a hybrid material: bonding synthetic-rubber components such as butadiene and isoprene with resin components such as ethylene at the molecular level.
The production process uses Bridgestone's proprietary gadolinium (Gd) catalyst via copolymerization. The company said it developed the polymer by "further evolving" Gd catalyst technologies used to synthesize polyisoprene rubber.
This, the company said, allows for the next-generation material to combine the pliability of rubber with the toughness of resin.
Target applications, Bridgestone said, include tires with higher performance and less material than current-generation tires.
The company also anticipates that HSR will help it meet its goal of converting to 100 percent sustainable materials set for 2050. In this case, "sustainable materials" are those derived from resources with a continual supply, can be used long term and have a low environmental and social impact throughout their whole lifecycle, from procurement to disposal, Bridgestone said.