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Will Michelin tyres soon be cereal based?

Environment Published the 26/11/2013 by Peter

For tyre manufacturers, the future will inevitably involve more environmentally friendly production processes. Research is already underway at Michelin.

Car on a country road Michelin invests in a new project to produce tyres using biomass - Copyright © : iStockphoto.com/rezulteo.com

An environmentally-friendly synthetic rubber

To produce a tyre, extensive use is made of rubber which must be transformed before it can be used in the composition of tyres. In the future, this production process must be improved to reduce the carbon footprint and optimise the production costs of this type of industry. And of particular importance, the production of butadiene, one of the main components used in the composition of a tyre. Butadiene is a chemical intermediate derived from fossil resources that is used in the production of synthetic rubber, 60% of its global production is for the tyre industry. Finding a way to produce butadiene with an improved ecological balance will certainly significantly improve this industry’s level of environmentally friendliness.   

 

A three tier alliance

This is precisely what French tyre manufacturer Michelin aims to do by partnering with AXENS and IFPEN, two public-sector research organisations. The aim is to produce bio-butadiene from plant matter such as tree branches, straw or even beetroot. This is an ideal way to reduce the environmental impact, particularly in terms of CO2 emissions, but only if an economically viable model can be found and if industrial production in this sector undergoes a profound transformation.

This three way project has appealed to France’s Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME), who will finance up to 14.7 million euros. According to estimates, the Biobutterfly project is expected to cost a total of 52 million euros over eight years.

So, can environmentally-friendly 100% synthetic rubber be expected soon? Remember that Continental hopes to produce dandelion based rubber in the future.