While Goodyear unveiled a tire made from 90% recycled materials last January, Continental announces that its tires will be made entirely from sustainable materials by 2050. The firm will use recycled bottles and natural elements such as rice.
It is often thought that the only source of pollution from a thermal car is the exhaust gases, and that therefore electric vehicles are completely clean. However, this is far from the case, as we explained in a previous file. Few know, but tires are also very harmful to the environmentwhile a study ofemissions analysis showed that its wear rejects more fine particles than gases emitted when driving a thermal car.
Not to mention, of course, the very energy-intensive production and recycling. According to the Ministry of Ecological Transition, these are no less than 59 million tires manufactured every year only in France. A figure that could drop thanks to the rise of airless tires, developed in particular by Michelin with its Uptis. But other equipment manufacturers are working on workarounds.
Starting with recycled erasers. This is the particular case of Continental, which announces an ambitious objective in a press release: to offer tires made from 100% recycled materials and sustainable by 2050. Today, the proportion is already 15 to 20% in its rubbers, depending on the model.
Thus, the German equipment manufacturer plans to use various materials, such as natural rubber from the rubber tree. Currently, this material, durable or not, represents between 10 and 40% of the total weight of a tire, while this industry is one of the largest consumers, using 70% of world production. Continental also plans to use eraser made with dandelions.
In fact, this flower produces a latex whose properties are very close to those of the rubber tree, with a resistance that would be even greater. The main advantage is then the higher yield, since you have to wait seven years to be able to make a first harvest of latex from the tree, compared to only one year for the flower. Continental has been working on this material since 2014 already.
The company will also use recycled bottles, as well asa silica produced from rice husk ash. It is then a by-product resulting from the transformation that is often thrown away, although certain manufacturers such as Seat are beginning to take an interest in it to produce parts. Similar to Goodyear, which plans to produce tires made from 90% recycled products, Continental’s tires will also be made from steel and recycled carbon black.
In addition, the company also wants tire recycling to be cleaner, thanks to mechanical processes in addition to pyrolysis, which consists of breaking the rubber with strong heat, around 500 degrees. Thus, mechanically separated elements can be recovered and reused.
Therefore, this most virtuous solution should make it possible to reduce the pollution resulting from tire recycling, while 20% of rubber would be destroyed prematurely. Then it goes hand in hand with Michelin’s airless solution, which would save 200 million tires per year, or the equivalent of 2 million tons of materials.
In a press release, the French firm announced that it was the first equipment manufacturer to produce tires made from 58% sustainable materialswhile it plans to sell chewing gum reaching 100% also by 2050.
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