October 23, 2021

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Automotive maniacs

Continental’s amazing GreenConcept retreadable tire is produced from dandelions and rice

5 min read

This could be the tire of the future.


Continental

Eco-welcoming tires are a thing of a holy grail in the vehicle industry, as these necessary don items have long experienced from confoundingly problematic production, emissions and disposal problems. At this week’s IAA Munich Motor Clearly show, German provider Continental debuted its Conti GreenConcept, a retread-prepared wise tire built from renewable, recycled and traceable supplies intended to combat particularly these troubles. Packed with foreseeable future tech that belies its standard appearance, the Conti GreenConcept offers a search at what could be rolling beneath your automobile in anywhere from 8 to 10 a long time — and bits and pieces of this tire’s fundamental development and tech will most likely find its way into generation considerably sooner.

Comprised of 35% renewable and 17% recycled components, the GreenConcept does away with most traditional silicates (customarily built from sand heated to 2,500 levels Fahrenheit) in favor of silicates derived from the ashes of rice husks — typically a squander item in the grain’s creation. The tire also consists of pure rubber made from the roots of dandelions, a technology Continental has been investigating since 2011. Further, the sidewalls hire polyester strands derived from recycled plastic bottles — every single tire works by using about 15 bottles’ truly worth of supplies. Last but not least, the GreenConcept also drastically curbs the utilization of crude-oil-dependent resins and oils, substituting vegetable-centered plasticizers rather.

Much lighter

These new products have the side gain of creating a considerably lighter tire the GreenConcept tire weighs all over 16.5 lbs ., about 40% much less than an equivalent typical rubber tire. This really should not only improve a vehicle’s experience and dealing with by lowering unsprung body weight, this tire is also claimed to have 25% significantly less rolling resistance than lots of of the finest-performing tires today (people with an EU Class A rolling-resistance score). Continental promises that this interprets to up to 6% improved assortment on EVs — frankly, a massive improvement in an business that sweats about solitary-percent boosts.

These could be in your upcoming tire.


Chris Paukert/Roadshow

The probability of a manufacturing product staying that light depends intensely on the tire’s utilization situation. As Continental’s CEO, Nikolai Setzer, instructed me in a media roundtable in Munich, “This [the GreenConcept] is of course a incredibly lightweight building. You have to appear into ‘where I can use it’ and ‘how can I use it?’ Is [the tire] stiff and stable sufficient to be utilized on Michigan roadways, for occasion, right after winter? Or do you blend it with a sensor assembly [telling you] where the potholes are so that you don’t hazard a flat tire? So you have to balance [weight] with overall performance, and then you may decrease a very little little bit from the body weight to make certain [performance].”

That claimed, this is not all pie-in-the-sky technology. Continental will commence rolling out tires manufactured with its so-named ContiReTex know-how — which includes reclaimed metal and recovered carbon black, as perfectly as reclaimed PET bottles — in 2022.

Are retreads the future?

A single of the much more intriguing possibilities that the GreenConcept brings up is the concept of retreads — reusing the foundation tire casing and refurbishing the dress in floor to minimize material use and decrease charges. For the functions of this notion tire, Continental constructed the GreenConcept with an inner eco-friendly layer to reveal the replaceable portion of the tire. A sensor inside the carcass screens tire health, which include force, temperature and tread depth, that means it truly is capable of telling homeowners when it’s time to add air or even contemplate a retread.

Today, retreads are generally identified on weighty-responsibility professional truck tires. Rightly or wrongly, on the other hand, when it comes to standard passenger-motor vehicle tires, retreads have historically been the subject matter of sizeable suspicion, with customers viewing the refurbishment course of action as inferior and likely much less secure than all-new tires. The GreenConcept aims to modify that notion with much better functionality and diminished source use. 

Here’s a nearer glimpse at how it will work.


Continental

It’s vital to observe that Continental just isn’t essentially signaling that it sees passenger-car or truck tires moving to retreads, but it is investigating the notion, applying the GreenConcept to test general public opinion on the matter. According to Setzer, “We are not indicating that in the long run this will appear, but it is an solution. It can be evidently in the principle [that] we display it truly is attainable, [but] whether or not the market place is definitely coming up for this, with all the problems of distribution … [including] how you refit [the treads], how do you do this in the [tire] shop. That is [possible] on the B2B on the vehicles. That is why it can be still so strong over there.” 

As Setzer famous, the restore and provider infrastructure that is in location to guidance the trucking marketplace favors retreads extra than regular passenger automobiles. But it’s also the differing construction of professional truck tires on their own that make retreads viable. “It’s possible [it’s] because trucks’ [tires] have metal carcasses, a much stronger underneath casing where you can renew [them] … [passenger] autos have textile carcasses exactly where commonly, the underneath is, following retreading, is not that potent enough that you however have the same integrity in terms of rolling resistance and the similar general performance.”

Sustainable production

Continental’s broader target is for all of its vegetation to make zero carbon emissions globally by 2040, and by 2050, the business aims to have a fully carbon-neutral offer chain. It can be here in which the increased traceability of the company’s raw supplies grow to be crucial. It really is also wherever not possessing to source rubber from tropical components of the world (compared to dandelions, which grow just about just about everywhere) could pay out massive dividends. That is not just genuine for curbing emissions produced by the material’s harvesting and delivery, but also in conditions of lowering likely environmental concerns like deforestation — not to point out tackling the connected human rights violations that pet dog present-day rubber trade.

A lot of difficulties lay forward on the highway to quantity creation, but in comparison to far more modern fantastical upcoming-tire ideas like Goodyear’s self-regenerating ReCharge, commercializing at the very least sections of Continental’s innovative GreenConcept tire appears downright realistic. What’s far more, the opportunity upsides for the maker, people and mankind alike all appear significantly as well massive to dismiss. 

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