Ok, not really, but Tyre manufacturers are under intense pressure to develop sustainable technologies to replace oil derived materials with agriculturally derived products. So ingredients like dandelions, rice, soy, orange oil, sunflowers and corn are all being seriously considered and tested as future tyre ingredients. The idea is to use these radical new ingredients to formulate lighter tyres without reducing on road performance while at the same time increasing fuel economy by reducing rolling resistance and also increasing tyre mileage.
The quest for new tyre formulations is driven by the need to replace or at least reduce dependence on current ingredients like natural rubber and oil based synthetics due to potential future shortages and rising prices and also to reduce product and manufacturing carbon footprints by the adoption of green and sustainable technologies.
And then it gets even more high tech. More exotic future tyre ingredients include microbially produced biopolymers, nano fibres from biological and synthetic sources, higher surface area silica, lighter weight reinforcements to replace steel belts, higher tensile steel belts to reduce tyre weight and truly exotic technol;ogies to process and combine all these new materials.
One consideration that has to be thought through is the fact that large scale farming to produce these new ingredients will reduce the land area for food production just like the use of corn for fuel production has done.
While the potential for the use of Russian Dandelions for the manufacture of rubber has been known since the 1920’s, we can only expect these new technologies to be gradually transitioned into tyre production over the next 10 to 15 years giving us much smarter and greener tyres.