November 19th 2009

Tree fibre-based tires – coming soon to a car near you

A team of wood science researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have proposed the idea to change the filler that is currently used in manufacturing rubber tires. By replacing the current silica with microcrystalline cellulose derived from plant fibre, it seems as the resulting tires would be more energy and fuel efficient, cost-effective, and better performers.The OSU researchers replaced about 12 percent used in the manufacturing of conventional tires with microcrystalline cellulose. This, then, decreased the energy that was needed to compound the rubber composite. It also improved the heat resistance and retained its tensile strength.

The new tire also had comparable traction to the previous rubber tires in wet conditions and decreased the rolling resistance in high temperatures, thereby improving the tires’ fuel efficiency.

The OCU team is still undergoing research in its long-term durability, but more studies and exploration is on the way.

The study appears in a recent issue of Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturings.

Read more about trees and how we can use them in Claus Mattheck’s Design in Nature: Learning from Trees.

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.