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.
Birla Carbon and GranBio are calling the new product nanocellulose dispersion composite rubber masterbatch and using the trademark "NDC" for it.
"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 a joint 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.
News of the sustainability improvements comes as Birla also is revealing that its 16 global manufacturing plants have been certified by the International Automotive Task Force. Birla claims it is the first carbon black maker to gain this recognition.
IATF certification "signifies that the company meets all the requirements of the global Quality Management System standard, especially for the automotive industry," the company said. "It incorporates the structure and requirements of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) quality management system and additional requirements for automotive customers."
Certification is developed by members of the International Automotive Task Force and submitted to the ISO. Certification can cover any company manufacturing and supplying components to the automobile industry, Birla said.
Birla has 16 manufacturing facilities in 12 countries and two technology centers in Marietta and Taloja, India.