News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

June 9, 2011

Michelin takes aim at run-flat tires with self-repairing tires

Filed under: Run-flats, Tires — Notch @ 12:07 pm

Stuff (via the Sydney Morning Herald) has a piece on Michelin’s ongoing work on a self-repairing tires, an area in which Continental also is active.

The self-repairing tyre can be driven over nails without losing pressure, thanks to a new rubber compound that immediately plugs any holes in the tread.

The tyre is not the first to have self-healing properties – Continental launched similar technology in 2009 – but Michelin says early versions of self-repairing tyres struggled to deliver the same performance as undamaged tyres, with the compound sinking to the bottom of the tyre if a car was parked for any length of time. This would create vibrations and affect rolling resistance, increasing fuel use.

Tires based on the Michelin technology are not yet available, but the company insists that the tires will be superior to run-flats because they can be driven at normal speeds if they’re punctured and offer better ride comfort. Like run-flats, self-repairing tires offer the benefits of allowing carmakers to remove the spare, thus saving weight and space, and reducing vehicle weight.

Japanese Prius rolls on Yokohama ADVAN dB tires

Filed under: Silica, Tires — Notch @ 11:53 am

On June 9, Yokohama Rubber announced that it has begun delivery of its premium comfort tire ADVAN dB as original equipment for Toyota’s new hybrid car the “Prius α” (name in the Japanese market). The tire size is 205/60R16 92V. Vehicles fitted with the ADVAN dB went on sale on May 13, 2011.

Rhodia focuses on highly dispersible silica

Filed under: Carbon Black, Silica — Notch @ 11:11 am (subscription required) has a useful article on Challenge Bibendum 2011 and the market potential for materials used in fuel efficient tires. Market leaders in this segment include Rhodia in highly dispersible silica and Lanxess in synthetic rubber.

Rhodia has been producing the Zeosil brand tyre compound ingredient for around 30 years ago, but recent technological developments mean it has more to offer the fuel efficiency of a tyre than ever before. “Manufacturers like Michelin do already use large quantities of silica, but there are opportunities to increase this,” Rhodia representatives told Tyres & Accessories

The kind of opportunities Rhodia refers mean both increasing the amount (and therefore the benefit) of the Zeosil/silica in the tyres and introduces the material into different parts of the tyre casing such as the bead and sidewall. Firstly, while some products already use around 90 per cent silica in their tread compounds, this certainly is not true across the board and even the most keen tyre manufacturers are said to be still operating in the 60 – 70 per cent range. And as circumferential flexion increases heat build up (and therefore rolling resistance) as well as the actual gripping surface, there are said to be further benefits available for those willing to adopt this silica approach when it comes to construction parts other than the tread. According to Rhodia, this strategy can be used in both passenger can truck tyre products, where the firm reports that it is also experiencing a fair degree of expansion.

The article includes a good comparison of the performance characteristics of HDS versus conventional fillers.

Solutia prepared to defend 4-ADPA patents

Filed under: Rubber Chemicals — Notch @ 11:00 am (subscription required) has an article about Solutia’s recent restructuring of its rubber chemicals business, which included the sale of its accelerators business. Following the restructuring, Solutia is focused on Santoflex (6PPD) antigradants and Crystex insoluble sulfur, where it holds leading positions.

The primary products in the Santoflex antidegradant portfolio are manufactured from the key intermediate 4-ADPA using Solutia’s proprietary PPD2 technology, for which Solutia holds a series of manufacturing process patents, including its Base Patents and Improvement Patent. “We developed a revolutionary manufacturing process and we stand firm in our commitment to protect our intellectual property around the world,” commented Roger Owen, global business director of Solutia’s antidegradants business, adding a caution to companies tempted to draw inspiration from Solutia’s work: “We have previously been engaged in patent litigation to protect against infringement of the Base Patents and are prepared to vigorously defend our intellectual rights under the Improvement Patent.” The Improvement Patent is, Solutia adds, valid in key countries throughout the world until 2019 and has been repeatedly held valid despite challenges from competitors.

Evonik to raise $1.1 billion to fund buyout

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 9:33 am

Bloomberg reports that Evonik Carbon Black plans to raise 770 million euros ($1.1 billion) from senior secured bonds and a credit line to fund its buyout by Rhone Capital LLC and Triton Advisers, according to a person familiar with the matter. Evonik Carbon Black, through Kinove German Bondco GmbH, is selling 600 million euros of seven-year bonds in euros and dollars and will get a $250 million six-year super senior revolving credit, said the person, who declined to be identified because the terms are private.

New York-based Rhone Capital and Triton, a private equity firm investing in the German-speaking and Nordic regions, will put in 321.1 million euros of equity for the transaction, said the person. Evonik Industries AG in Essen, Germany is selling the carbon black unit to concentrate on its chemicals business.

Evonik Carbon Black will pay interest of 400 basis points more than the benchmark lending rate for the credit line if its debt is equal to or more than 3.25 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, according to the person. The interest margin will fall to as low as 350 basis points if the ratio declines to less than 2.75 times, the person said. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., UBS AG and Barclays Capital are managing the financing. A U.S. roadshow starts today, while meetings with European investors start June 13, the person said. The bonds are expected to be rated B2 by Moody’s Investors Service and B by Standard & Poor’s, the person said. High-yield debt is graded below Baa3 by Moody’s and BBB- by S&P.

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