CLEVELAND—Kraton Corp.'s newest products have a similar feel, and that's a good thing.
The firm unveiled its Sylvatraxx 8000 tread enhancement additives grades, which it said are designed to optimize the balance between wet traction and rolling resistance in silica-filled passenger car tire treads, specifically for high-performance all-season tires.
Nicolas Derville, Kraton's global director for the tire industry, said at the recent International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland that the products replace Kraton's old grades that used limonene as a raw material. The new grades are pine-based, which is less susceptible to volatility.
"It's aimed at replacing a range of products that have been using limonene as a raw material," Derville said. "It's aimed at providing similar performance, but with a pine-based feedstock. It's going to be a lot more stable in terms of supply. Limonene is a good raw material, but has been subject to some volatility in recent years."
Derville added that other than the raw material swap, the new Sylvatraxx 8000 grades perform just as strongly as their predecessors. Limonene is derived from orange oil, which makes it dependent on the amount of oranges produced in a given season. And like all crops, orange production is susceptible to swings based on the weather, leading limonene to have volatile swings.
Pine, on the other hand, is a more stable raw material, and in turn gives Kraton and its customers fewer swings in pricing.
"We've had a lot of success with these grades," Derville said. "This is the next step in providing long-term stability in the feedstock."
The products are manufactured at Kraton's Panama City, Fla., facility, which Derville said has sufficient capacity to manufacture the new product. The firm also refines its raw materials at the same plant.
Derville said there are a number of trends in the tire/automotive industry driving innovations like Sylvatraxx 8000. Wet traction and low rolling resistance will continue to be major focuses for tire manufacturers as their automotive customers move to electric vehicle platforms. Improvements in both areas will be key in maximizing battery range.
Derville added that electric vehicles will place additional requirements in terms of grip because a heavier car will have more torque, and thus require more grip.
"That's not going away if you look at what's going on in all legislations around the world regarding emissions," Derville said. "Requirements are becoming more and more stringent every time."