HANOVER, Germany—Trinseo S.A. has added to its solution SBR family of products as the global materials firm looks to address what it sees as several key trends in the overall mobility market, as 80 percent of its synthetic rubber production ends up in the performance tire market.
The Berwyn, Pa.-based firm unveiled its Sprintan-brand 918S S-SBR at the recent Tire Technology Expo in Hanover. The firm said the new material achieves a balance between rolling resistance, high grip and a good mechanical property profile.
Trinseo said it developed Sprintan 918S to solve such challenges as physical stability, safety and high fuel efficiency while at the same time delivering a material with easy processability for the tread of ultra-high performance tires.
"That is something we have been focused on, making sure whatever we produce does not stay in the lab level but makes its way on the road," Samer Al Jabi, Trinseo's global business director for synthetic rubber, said in an interview shortly after the Tire Technology Expo. "That's very important for tire makers."
Al Jabi said the key drivers Trinseo has been monitoring in the tire market include sustainable mobility, legislation, performance and the mobility revolution.
The Trinseo official said sustainability is tied to energy efficiency, with tires contributing more than 30 percent of the carbon dioxide of a vehicle. It's much like what happened previously in the refrigerator industry, where consumers began paying attention to labels outlining how much energy the appliance was using. So while in the past tire buyers were more concerned with the quality of the tire, now they increasingly are looking at other factors such as fuel efficiency, safety, noise and other factors.
Legislation is tied closely to this driver, according to Al Jabi, with Europe, the U.S. and other regions pressing mandates to reduce CO² emissions in cars.
Performance needs are driven by the continued rise in the demand for sport-utility vehicles and light trucks, vehicles he said are larger and by default consume more fuel.
And all of these areas must be addressed at the same time auto makers are looking at the next generation of mobility, with electric and autonomous vehicles high on the priority list. "This is bringing a new dimension to the market," Al Jabi said. "What type of tires will you have on these cars? The parameters of rolling resistance, noise and speed all are changing. The tires have to be adjusted to adapt to these new requirements."
Evolving with the market
What that means to Trinseo's SR business is that tire maker customers are looking to it more than ever for solutions. He said they want new materials to help position them either in the original equipment or replacement markets.
"The pressure has been tremendous," Al Jabi said. "In the last decade we have helped the auto market reduce rolling resistance in cars through our solution SBR materials by more than 25 percent. Tire makers are coming to ask us to repeat this in a span of three to four years to be able to meet the new requirements."