News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

March 7, 2012

Specialty Tires expanding at Pennsylvania plant

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 7:16 pm

Specialty Tires of America is investing $1.5 million over three years to modernize and upgrade its tire plant in Indiana, Pennsylvania for expanded radial tire capacity. During the project, Specialty Tires will reconfigure 10,000 square feet of the plant to accommodate new equipment that will allow the company to expand its radial tire line and produce rubber-coated steel fabric for radial tires. Specialty Tires operates a second tire plant in Unicoi, Tennessee. The company manufactures radial and bias-ply light truck, aircraft, racing, farm, OTR, industrial and specialty tires at its two plants. It goes to market under a number of brand names, including the American Farmer, American Racer and numerous variations of the American and STA names.

Michelin develops new fuel-efficient tire for Renault

Filed under: General, Silica, Tires — Notch @ 6:52 pm

Michelin has developed new, highly energy efficient tires to help increase the overall range of Renault’s new model, ZOE. All Renault ZOE models equipped with 15 and 16-inch tires will be fitted with the new Michelin Energy E-V tires.

In its press release, Michelin said its goal in the project was to design tires that help to reduce energy consumption while maintaining safety — especially wet grip — and tread life.

One goal of its design work was reducing heat buildup caused by the deformation that occurs with each rotation of the tire; as the tire’s structure is deformed, the components heat up and some of the energy transmitted by the engine is lost. MICHELIN ENERGY™ E-V tires heat up less while driving, which reduces energy consumption, but the rubber in the contact patch heats up quickly when the brakes are applied, which shortens braking distances.

Contract ratified at Cooper Findlay

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 2:53 am

On February 27, unionized workers at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.’s Findlay tire plant ratified a new five-year labor contract, thus ending a lockout that began Nov. 28. The agreement—approved by a 627 to 321 margin—affects about 1,050 United Steelworkers Local 207L members at the factory.

Goodyear raising consumer tire prices in US/Canada

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 2:49 am

Rubber News (subscription required) reports that Goodyear is raising prices on its consumer tires in the U.S. and Canada and commercial tires in the U.S. by up to 6 percent, effective April 1. Goodyear cited escalating raw materials costs for the increases, which affect all Goodyear brands, including Dunlop, Kelly and associate brands.

Goodyear has raised commercial tire prices four times in the last year, most recently in the US on November 1, when prices rose by up to 10%. The last Goodyear consumer tire price hike was Oct. 1, by up to 5 percent.

Goodyear & DuPont working to develop bio-based rubber

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 2:36 am

On March 6, Goodyear announced that it was working together with DuPont Industrial Biosciences to develop BioIsoprene™, a bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene. BioIsoprene™ can be used for the production of synthetic rubber, which could help reduce the tire and rubber industry’s dependence on oil-derived products.

According to the press release, the two companies have demonstrated proof of the technology through the production of a prototype tire made with BioIsoprene™ monomer. This tire is on display on the Goodyear Dunlop stand at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show, which runs from March 8-18.

The two companies first signed on to the collaboration in 2008. In May of 2011, DuPont acquired Danisco and its Genencor division which has spearheaded the research and development activities around the BioIsoprene™ product.

DuPont and the former Genencor division of Danisco have cooperated before. An example is a joint research initiative between the groups that led to the development of an advanced bioprocess to produce renewably sourced 1.3 propanediol (BioPDO™). BioPDO™ is produced today in a world scale plant in Loudon, TN by the DuPont Tate and Lyle BioProducts joint venture. DuPont utilizes BioPDO™ to produce an advanced fiber, now sold as Sorona™, which is used in a wide range of applications including carpeting and apparel. The project earned the US Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2003.

The BioIsoprene™ monomer is derived from renewable raw materials. Aside from synthetic rubber for tire production, BioIsoprene™ can be used in a wide range of products such as surgical gloves, golf balls and adhesives. By itself, Goodyear is one of the world’s largest users of isoprene for the production of synthetic rubber and other elastomers.

The two companies have invested jointly for more than four years to validate the project, establish the teams, and secure intellectual property assets. To date, technical progress has exceeded expectations. Additional investments to establish pilot plant operations and manufacturing infrastructure are expected.

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