MARIETTA, Ga.—A joint development program between Birla Carbon and GranBio Technologies expects to improve the sustainability of tire and rubber products through what the companies are calling a breakthrough technology.
The two companies claim to have figured out how to effectively disperse nanocellulose in tire and rubber products, the result of a three-year development program involving the two sides.
"The NDC masterbatch overcomes traditional dispersion challenges by combining several synergistic innovations developed by our team members including GranBio's patented hydrophobic form of nanocellulose," the companies said in statement.
The new masterbatch addresses sustainability demands "both in terms of improving tire rolling resistance and vehicle fuel economy through enabling the incorporation of sustainable, bio-derived nanocellulose into commercial rubber products," the companies said.
Nanocellulose utilization has caught the attention of both industry and research in recent years, but there have been challenges regarding effective dispersion of hydrophilic nanocellulose into hydrophobic rubber formulations, the companies said.
Nanocellulose is described by the companies as a "versatile high-strength, lightweight renewable biomaterial." GranBio makes a variety of nanocellulose products at a biorefinery in Thomaston, Ga.
"A key product innovation goal of our tire customers is to increase the amount of renewable raw materials in their tires through product innovation," Dale Clark, Birla's chief technology officer, said in a statement. "The NDC masterbatch enables delivery of this goal while maintaining or improving tire properties and performance."
Birla has a regional headquarters in Marietta and global headquarters in Mumbai, India.
Kenneth Hill, GranBio's chief commercial officer, called the development "a significant milestone" in his company's commercialization of its BioPlus nanocellulose technology.