The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is providing funding to support a $1.25 million collaborative project with Bridgestone Americas that focuses on improving the fuel efficiency of truck and bus radial tires using PPG’s Agilon performance silica platform.
The goal of the project is to deliver prototype tires to DOE that help trucks and buses achieve fuel-efficiency improvements of 4 to 6 percent while maintaining or improving tear strength and tread wear. Research and development work for the project will be completed at PPG’s Monroeville, Pa., facility.
Anup Jain, PPG’s vice president of specialty coatings and materials, said PPG’s collaboration with Bridgestone has the potential to significantly change the truck tire industry.
“The DOE funding validates what our preliminary research already has shown – that Agilon performance silica has significant potential as a next-generation filler to help increase truck tire fuel efficiency,” Jain said.
Improving the fuel efficiency of trucks and buses would provide significant economic and environmental benefits. According to DOE reports, heavy-duty vehicles comprise only 4 percent of all vehicles on U.S. roads, but consume approximately 20 percent of all fuel.
PPG estimates that if even 25 percent of all tractor-trailers on the road improved fuel efficiency by 4 percent, they would consume 750 million fewer gallons of diesel fuel annually, saving nearly $2 billion and reducing carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions by nearly 8 million metric tons.
According to Kurt Danielson, president of Bridgestone Commercial Group, his company’s environmental mission is “to help ensure a healthy environment for current and future generations,” Danielson said that by using 2005 data as a baseline, the company’s midterm target is to achieve a 35 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020.
Agilon performance silica is a high-value technology platform of chemically modified precipitated silica that can improve the performance of rubber products in which it is used. Testing indicates that the chemical modifications used to produce Agilon performance silica make the silica more compatible with the natural rubber typically used in truck and bus radial tire applications. This will allow the silica to better mix with the rubber, enabling better tire performance than is possible with conventional silicas.