Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nanotechnology and Tyre Technology

New Nanoprene Development from LANXESS

Lanxess recently given a press release citing the commercialisation of a special polymer additive called "Nanoprene" !!
This material additive for the rubber mixture of the tire tread significantly cuts wear in automobile tires. The much longer service life of the tire as a wearing part is easy on the wallet and the environment. Unlike with many new developments in the tire rubber sector, use of this additive to enhance wear resistance does not in any way impact on rolling resistance or wet grip.
For tyre technologists improving mileage was a big concern while using silica filler to get low RR and traction.
Thanks to Lnaxess !!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tires made from trees

Tires made from trees – better, cheaper, more fuel efficient:(Media Release: Oregon State University)

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Automobile owners around the world may some day soon be driving on tires that are partly made out of trees – which could cost less, perform better and save on fuel and energy.

Wood science researchers at Oregon State University have made some surprising findings about the potential of microcrystalline cellulose – a product that can be made easily from almost any type of plant fibers – to partially replace silica as a reinforcing filler in the manufacture of rubber tires.

A new study suggests that this approach might decrease the energy required to produce the tire, reduce costs, and better resist heat buildup. Early tests indicate that such products would have comparable traction on cold or wet pavement, be just as strong, and provide even higher fuel efficiency than traditional tires in hot weather.
“We were surprised at how favorable the results were for the use of this material,” said Kaichang Li, an associate professor of wood science and engineering in the OSU College of Forestry, who conducted this research with graduate student Wen Bai.

“This could lead to a new generation of automotive tire technology, one of the first fundamental changes to come around in a long time,” Li said.

Cellulose fiber has been used for some time as reinforcement in some types of rubber and automotive products, such as belts, hoses and insulation – but never in tires, where the preferred fillers are carbon black and silica. Carbon black, however, is made from increasingly expensive oil, and the processing of silica is energy-intensive. Both products are very dense and reduce the fuel efficiency of automobiles.

In the search for new types of reinforcing fillers that are inexpensive, easily available, light and renewable, OSU experts turned to microcrystalline cellulose – a micrometer-sized type of crystalline cellulose with an extremely well-organized structure. It is produced in a low-cost process of acid hydrolysis using nature’s most abundant and sustainable natural polymer – cellulose – that comprises about 40-50 percent of wood.

In this study, OSU researchers replaced up to about 12 percent of the silica used in conventional tire manufacture. This decreased the amount of energy needed to compound the rubber composite, improved the heat resistance of the product, and retained tensile strength.
Traction is always a key issue with tire performance, and the study showed that the traction of the new product was comparable to existing rubber tire technology in a wet, rainy environment. However, at high temperatures such as in summer, the partial replacement of silica decreased the rolling resistance of the product, which would improve fuel efficiency of rubber tires made with the new approach.

More research is needed to confirm the long-term durability of tires made with partial replacement of silica, Li said. Further commercial development of this technology by a tire manufacturer could be undertaken at any time, he said. The newest findings were just published in a professional journal, Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing.
Tire manufacturing, a huge industry, could also provide another market for large amounts of Pacific Northwest natural fibers and the jobs and technology needed to process them.

Sunday, August 2, 2009



Challenged to improve the tire production process,Apollo’s engineers took the idea one step further,creating the blueprint for their dream factory of the future:

by P K Mohamed, N Pradeepkumar, Sujith Nair & Raghuraj Ananthoj,research, technology & design team, Apollo Tyres Ltd

(Published Tire Technology international in 2008)

It started one evening when a friend posed the question, “Why does your industry use such expensive equipment and complicated processes to make something as simple as a black and round load of rubber?” Another friend, the owner of a rubber plantation, joined in, saying, “Our rubber is a versatile material with great dynamic properties, but it seems like your manufacturing process is designed to downgrade the properties of the material.” A third friend, who works for an environmental non-governmental organization, joined the chorus with, “You guys need to think through your energy consumption. The amount of fuel you try to save by constantly bringing down the rolling resistance of the tire is clearly offset by the amount of energy used at the manufacturing stage.” These comments got the research, technology and design team at India based Apollo Tyres thinking about how to address these very real issues. It set itself the task of designing an ideal tire factory,one that would go beyond environmental regulations, one that would improve economy, contribute toward social responsibility, and enhance customer satisfaction, while being flexible, modular, and mobile, with efficient processes.

The team felt that, although dreams may sometimes be far-fetched, dreaming big is the only way to make some of it a reality. Tire factories have traditionally been highly labor-intensive, with special and critical manufacturing processes adding complexity, and requiring extensive human intervention. But a complete rethink and integration of various facets of the manufacturing processes and machinery selection could deliver a dream product. The philosophy would be that simpler is better, and the essence would be to do much more with less. The product and the process would be less complex, with an approach of simplifying and combining operations, and eliminating redundancies. The output of such a factory would be a dream product: structurally simple yet enduring, functionally superlative yet economical, and with an ability to exceed customer expectations.

Such a product would retain the virginity of its rawmaterials during processing and would not contain materials that were harmful or added no value. It would be built in a highly automated and precisely controlled assembly line, employing a pull system with no inventory in its entire value chain. From the processing perspective, retention of material properties is critical throughout a tire’s life-cycle, as it undergoes millions of flex cycles. It would be a minor miracle if this dream could be achieved, as no product is free from degradation through aging. However, precise control in molecular weight reduction and optimum homogeneity in compounds could deliver the best possible results. A conventional tire manufacturing process constitutes various stages, such as mixing, dipping, extrusion, calendaring, component preparation, component assembly, building, and curing.

Among these stages, mixing is very labor and energy-intensive, involving heavy equipment with high capital cost. De-linking or part removal of this area from the tire plant, and outsourcing raw material in a ready-to-use form, would reduce costs. For example, custom compounded rubber pellets could transform a plant from the conventional ‘black’ industry to a ‘white’ one, giving improved efficiency, lowest depreciation, and substantially reduced pollution levels. A tire is built as a complex composite with a multitude of components, making tire manufacturing a multistage assembly operation, with extensive human interventions potentially adding non-uniformities at every stage of the process. Reducing this complexity would be the greatest challenge, and a rethinking of tire design is essential for simplifying the structure. The number of compounds and components used in a tire could be reduced through special formulations, so that a single component could function differently in different areas by dynamically varying the stiffness properties, as per the load frequencies. Also, the tire could be made intelligent through the use of embedded chips, which would render it less dependent on tread patterns. Special compounds such as electro-active polymers could dynamically optimize the traction requirement and hence offer optimum rolling resistance and grip on all terrains. Simplifying tread geometry (non-uniformity) would naturally reduce vibrations and noise, as well as simplifying the molding process. Having simplified the product, the layout of the factory could become product-oriented rather than process dependent. This layout would seek extensions into all upstream and downstream operations; a perfect integration across the entire spectrum of the value chain, facilitating business partnerships with suppliers and customers. The factory location would follow a logistics-based topology, with suppliers brought to the input end of the plant, and finished products delivered to the customer’s doorstep.

The factory would follow a ‘satellite’ network, consisting of a central star unit, strategically located for easy access to supplies. This unit would be connected with various satellite units, which would carry out the process of tire production. The central unit would control the formulary and intellectual property-related information, and would respond to the satellite units based on a needs-based formula. The satellite units would be mobile, enabling them to reach customer locations quickly, whereas the unit would be set up for on-site production in the shortest possible time. Satellite production units would be built on the innovative 2F manufacturing system, an integrated modular manufacturing system combining the consolidation (forming) and the vulcanization (firming) processes. These are the true value processes in tire manufacturing. This system envisages ‘making the tire as it is’, with minimum deviation from forming to firming, so that tires would be perfectly uniform for performance requirements. The mobile satellite units would carry integrated modular stations for forming and firming, and a module for branding. The unit comprises essentially a multiplex feeder for compound feeding, and a special robotic arm to wrap the carcass material onto a toroidal drum.

Mold covers would be part of this module, which would firmly envelope the toroidal drum after the carcass wrapping. The compound would then be injected into the cavity to fill and insulate the carcass wrap. The mold clamping would be such that the required pressure would be developed within the structure for consolidation during injection molding.

The movable forming unit would then proceed to the firming modulefor vulcanization, using a microwave or electrical-heating method. The tire would then be transferred in the quickest time possible to the branding module, where quick laser engraving or stickers would be fused to the sidewall at ambient temperatures.

Once created, a robotic fuzzy logic arm would pick up the finished tirefor upstream delivery. With the entire process of manufacturing simplified, the chances of non-uniformities would be drastically reduced, if not eliminated. The range of quality monitoring systems, such as uniformity, balancing, and final inspection, could even be eliminated, as could the processing aids required in the compound, as there wouldn’t be any issues pertaining to tackiness or blooming, rendering the conventional recipe obsolete.

The entire manufacturing process would be environmentally friendly, based on minimal use of fossil fuels and the use of natural materials. For example, greater usage of epoxidized natural rubber and vegetable oils would replace carcinogenic petroleum-based aromatic oils. The utility of silica has already been proved, and it has exceptional advantages over carbon black in meeting the magic triangle. The green system calls for processing that is free of volatile organic compounds, and that eliminates carcinogenic materials such as nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and naphtha based cements and solvents. All these measures would ensure a low carbon manufacturing process, in turn reducing the cost of the product. A product-oriented layout has tremendous potential to reduce waste. In a process-oriented approach, operators focus on individual production efficiency, which could act against the overall efficiency of the plant.
In this dream factory, wastes such as overproduction, inventory, transportation, processing, movement, or defects would be eliminated in the value-engineered production line, as well as wastes caused by losses of energy, time, and effort.

The factory would practice just-in-time production, whereby each processor machine would operate based on demand from the immediate customerin a pull system, reducing inventory and overproduction.

This factory is designed with foolproof systems in every operation, leaving no room for mistakes. The operation and process flow would be made foolproof to make a process or safety violation impossible. Quality would be a way of life rather than a separate entity to be practiced, and policing of it would be a thing of the past in the entire value chain, from supply to delivery. Suppliers would be empowered to self-certificate, and could participate in decision-making in relevant areas. Joint research and empowerment with customers and suppliers could be practiced for better understanding of each other’s requirements. Breaking free of orthodoxy with flexible and flatter structures, the organization could continuouslymobilize minds for innovations.

Management structures would be designed to ensure executives have freedom in implementing and testing innovations. The need to changeconstantly, in tune with market dynamics, would be a key driver.The factory envisages information technology as the greatest enabler ofefficient operations. Every operation in the factory, including utility services, machine operation, conveyors, and transportation and servicing, would be controlled by a central intelligent unit integrated with the ERP system. Extensive use of simulation would be employed in product and process design, eliminating process trials. The customer logging in for his requirement would work as the trigger for all upstream processes, extending up to suppliers.

Intelligent sensors would be used in controlling the cooling, heating, and lighting facilities, which would work only when human presence is detected or the machines need it, resulting in energy savings. Information technology would make the factory a transparent entity by enabling real-time communication. Communication channels could be individual computers, mobile phones, or electronic display boards placed in prominent places, flashing information as and when required. An operator at any station could log in his feedback to receive a reply from management in real time, decreasing the need for physical meetings, and reducing interaction costs.

The primary goal that a dream tire factory must meet is to produce acustomized product for every single customer, as and when required. Sucha factory is based on the three pillars of economy, ecology and society. It needs to function as a facility which at no point should be in conflict with anything else in its immediate community. This is a dream, but work has begun to see how much of this can be achieved, and how soon.

Friday, July 31, 2009

ITC Recommends Imposing Tariffs on Chinese Tires
Yesterday, the U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously voted to recommend that President Barack Obama impose tariffs on Chinese imports for a period of three years.
Yesterday, the U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously voted to recommend that President Barack Obama impose tariffs on Chinese imports for a period of three years to redress the unfair trade practices that Chinese manufacturers have used to severely hurt the U.S. industry.
Earlier this month, the ITC ruled that the import of Chinese tires is adversely affecting the domestic industry, after a complaint was filed by the United Steelworkers Union.
The USW complaint alleged that China, through currency manipulation, illegal subsidies and other illegal trade practices, has damaged the domestic tire industry by dumping vast amounts of low-priced tires into the American market.
According to the USW, from 2004 to 2008, Chinese tire imports increased 215 percent by volume and 295 percent by value. Over that same time, domestic production has fallen 25 percent.
By 2008, Chinese tire manufacturers imported 46 million tires worth approximately $1.7 billion.

Nitrogen Inflation

Nitrogen Inflation - Few facts:
Nitrogen has become a bit of a trendy issue — and a way to generate some extra income in certain quarters. I'm not saying there are no benefits — but they are minimal and outweighed by the cost.

Compressed air, which has worked perfectly well for more than a century, is made up of 78 per cent nitrogen, 21 per cent oxygen and a trace amount of other gases — notice that it is already almost 80 per cent nitrogen.

In some cases — most in fact — moisture in the form of water vapour is also present.

Proponents of nitrogen say it eliminates the moisture and that, because nitrogen molecules are bigger than oxygen molecules, which escape over time through the sidewall, nitrogen-filled tires will maintain their pressure longer.

Nitrogen proponents like to wave the safety flag, saying that because tires retain their pressure longer they are safer. They claim longer wear because a tire low on pressure wears prematurely.

They will now also jump on the "save fuel" bandwagon for the same reason — a properly inflated tire will help fuel mileage.

No argument from me on any of these points, but if you check your tires regularly — even once a month — you'll catch any loss of pressure and refill, for nothing.

Tire manufacturers say that while nitrogen will do no harm, they don't see any need to use it.

Consumer Reports magazine, after a year-long evaluation of 31 different all-season tires, reports that nitrogen reduced the loss in pressure an average of 1.3 psi during the 12 months in comparison with compressed air.

"All tires lost air pressure, regardless of the inflation medium, so consumers should check their tire's pressure routinely," it says.

Nitrogen is used in the aircraft industry because of the severe and instantaneous changes in temperature a tire undergoes when coming from the extreme cold at 35,000 feet to hundreds of degrees when it screeches to a stop on the runway.

Race teams use nitrogen in tires because they commonly monitor and change pressure in units of less than 0.5 psi to change handling — and replace the tires after only a few hundred kilometres, at the most.
Good news for Indian Tyre Industry:

Anticipating new truck and bus launches, most of which will be fitted with radial tyres, manufacturers in India are starting to install capacity to meet the demand.
According to Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA), an estimated Rs2,615 crore will be invested by 2011, which will cumulatively create an extra capacity of 3.77 million truck and bus radials. The expansion comes at a time when the recovery in sales of truck and bus is only just beginning to pick up.
Sales of such commercial vehicles had shrunk by 22% to 384,122 units in the fiscal ended March, compared with the previous fiscal.