France-headed global tyre major Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin (Michelin Group) has crossed a new barrier by being the first to design a bus tyre integrating up to 58 percent sustainable materials and approved for road use.
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In June 2018, the global tyre manufacturer revealed an ambitious plan to ensure that by 2048, all of its tyres will be manufactured using 80 percent sustainable materials and that 100 percent of all tyres will be recycled.
At Michelin, we don’t just design sustainable tyres on paper, we make them for real…, commented Scott Clark, EVP of Automotive, Motorsport, Experiences, and Americas Regions – Member of the Group Executive Committee.
The Group has now unveiled two new tyres, one for cars and the other for buses, containing 45 percent and 58 percent sustainable materials respectively.
These two tyres, in which no compromise in performance is made, herald technologies that Michelin is clearly counting on marketing by 2025.
Increased use of renewable and recycled content
Michelin owes this progress to the greater use of natural rubber, together with the inclusion in its tyres of recycled carbon black, oils such as sunflower oil and bio-sourced resins, silica from rice husks, and recycled steel.
The compositions differ depending on whether it’s a bus or a car tire. This is explained by the tyre’s structure – a polyester casing for car tires and a metal casing for trucks – but also by the compounds used in the tread. In fact, the internal pressure of a bus tyre – 8 bar – higher than that of a car tyre – 2.5 bar – requires a highly resistant casing, consequently created in steel. It also explains a tread with very different performance requirements, requiring neither oil nor resin, but more natural rubber, explained Cyrille Roget, Michelin Group Technical and Scientific Communications Director.
This progress in integrating sustainable materials constitutes a real challenge, and one that the Group has been able to overcome thanks to its expertise in high-tech materials, and its desire to speed up innovation, by engaging in a program of targeted partnerships.
Examples of this are Pyrowave for recycled styrene (r-styrene), Carbios for recycled PET (r-PET), Enviro for recycled carbon black (rCB), IFPEN/Axens for bio-butadiene.
With the participation of the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (ADEME), the Empreinte project aims to propose effective solutions for recycling or bio-sourcing materials and eco-designed products.
The circular economy projects BlackCycle and Whitecycle, which Michelin is running with numerous European partners and with the backing of the EU, to transform end-of-life tyres (ELT) into very high-quality raw materials that can be incorporated into new tyres.
Going for 100 percent sustainability by 2050
Beyond developing and integrating sustainable materials into its tires, Michelin stands out with its global approach that aims at truly reducing a tire’s environmental impact.
In order to achieve its ambitious goal of a 100 percent sustainable tyre by 2050, Michelin is acting at every stage in its life cycle – from choosing raw materials to tire recycling solutions – without lowering performances and taking into consideration the real possibilities for large-scale production of the sustainable materials from which it will be created.