Technology
A smarter way to make ultraviolet light beams — Existing coherent ultraviolet light sources are power hungry, bulky and expensive. University of Michigan researchers have found a better way to build compact ultraviolet sources with…
Biocompatible graphene transistor array reads cellular signals — Researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, a graphene-based transistor array that is compatible with living biological cells and capable of recording the electrical signals…
Researchers find some smartphone models more vulnerable to attack — New research from North Carolina State University shows that some smartphones specifically designed to support the Android mobile platform have incorporated additional features that…
MIT: New algorithm may improve defensive driving — In 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2.3 million automobile crashes occurred at intersections across the United States, resulting in some 7,000…
Researchers use CT to recreate Stradivarius violin — Using computed tomography (CT) imaging and advanced manufacturing techniques, a team of experts has created a reproduction of a 1704 Stradivarius violin. Three-dimensional images of…
Terminator-style info-vision takes step towards reality — The streaming of real-time information across your field of vision is a step closer to reality with the development of a prototype contact lens that could potentially provide the wearer…
Scientists invent long-lasting, near infrared-emitting material — Materials that emit visible light after being exposed to sunlight are commonplace and can be found in everything from emergency signage to glow-in-the-dark stickers. But until now,…
Team of researchers develop world's lightest material — A team of researchers from UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology have developed the world's lightest material - with a density of 0.9 mg/cc - about…
Humans can control a cursor with power of thought — The act of mind reading is something usually reserved for science-fiction movies but researchers in America have used a technique, usually associated with identifying epilepsy, for…
Nanoparticles improve solar collection efficiency — Using minute graphite particles 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, mechanical engineers at Arizona State University hope to boost the efficiency - and profitability…
Where am I? > Home > News > Technology

Tires made from trees - better, cheaper, more fuel efficient

Science Centric | 22 July 2009 10:39 GMT
Printable version A clip for your blog or website E-mail the story to a friend
Bookmark or share the story on your social network Vote for this article Decrease text size Increase text size
DON'T MISS —
3-D surface treatment boosts solar cell efficiency
3-D surface treatment boosts solar cell efficiency — Using two different types of chemical etching to create features at both the micron and nanometre size scales, researchers…
Researchers develop flow sensors that mimic blind fish
Researchers develop flow sensors that mimic blind fish — A blind fish that has evolved a unique technique for sensing motion may inspire a new generation of sensors that perform…
More Technology

Automobile owners around the world may some day soon be driving on tires that are partly made out of trees - which could cost less, perform better and save on fuel and energy.

Wood science researchers at Oregon State University have made some surprising findings about the potential of microcrystalline cellulose - a product that can be made easily from almost any type of plant fibres - to partially replace silica as a reinforcing filler in the manufacture of rubber tires.

A new study suggests that this approach might decrease the energy required to produce the tire, reduce costs, and better resist heat buildup. Early tests indicate that such products would have comparable traction on cold or wet pavement, be just as strong, and provide even higher fuel efficiency than traditional tires in hot weather.

'We were surprised at how favourable the results were for the use of this material,' said Kaichang Li, an associate professor of wood science and engineering in the OSU College of Forestry, who conducted this research with graduate student Wen Bai.

'This could lead to a new generation of automotive tire technology, one of the first fundamental changes to come around in a long time,' Li said.

Cellulose fibre has been used for some time as reinforcement in some types of rubber and automotive products, such as belts, hoses and insulation - but never in tires, where the preferred fillers are carbon black and silica. Carbon black, however, is made from increasingly expensive oil, and the processing of silica is energy-intensive. Both products are very dense and reduce the fuel efficiency of automobiles.

In the search for new types of reinforcing fillers that are inexpensive, easily available, light and renewable, OSU experts turned to microcrystalline cellulose - a micrometre-sized type of crystalline cellulose with an extremely well-organised structure. It is produced in a low-cost process of acid hydrolysis using nature's most abundant and sustainable natural polymer - cellulose - that comprises about 40-50 percent of wood.

In this study, OSU researchers replaced up to about 12 percent of the silica used in conventional tire manufacture. This decreased the amount of energy needed to compound the rubber composite, improved the heat resistance of the product, and retained tensile strength.

Traction is always a key issue with tire performance, and the study showed that the traction of the new product was comparable to existing rubber tire technology in a wet, rainy environment. However, at high temperatures such as in summer, the partial replacement of silica decreased the rolling resistance of the product, which would improve fuel efficiency of rubber tires made with the new approach.

More research is needed to confirm the long-term durability of tires made with partial replacement of silica, Li said. Further commercial development of this technology by a tire manufacturer could be undertaken at any time, he said. The newest findings were just published in a professional journal, Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing.

Tire manufacturing, a huge industry, could also provide another market for large amounts of Pacific Northwest natural fibres and the jobs and technology needed to process them

This advance is another in a series of significant discoveries in Li's research program at OSU in recent years. He developed a non-toxic adhesive for production of wood composite panels that has dramatically changed that industry, and in 2007 received a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award at the National Academy of Sciences for his work on new, sustainable and environmentally friendly wood products.

Source: Oregon State University


Leave a comment
The details you provide on this page [e-mail address] will not be used to send unsolicited e-mail, and will not be supplied to a third party! Please note that we can not promise to give everyone a response. Comments are fully moderated. Once approved they will be posted within 24 hours.
Expand the form to leave a comment

RSS FEEDS, NEWSLETTER
Find the topic you want. Science Centric offers several RSS feeds for the News section.

Or subscribe for our Newsletter, a free e-mail publication. It is published practically every day.

Student-designed device provides new way to track calorie burningStudent-designed device provides new way to track calorie burning

— Counting calories that burn through activity is a constant quandary. One can only run on a treadmill so long, watching intently as the pedometer reads out the number…

The new iPod shuffle talks to youThe new iPod shuffle talks to you

— Apple today (11 March 2009) introduced a new model iPod shuffle, the world's smallest music player at nearly half of the size of the previous one, and the first…

Mining MIT for neurotechnical know-howMining MIT for neurotechnical know-how

— The technologies that drive neuroscience research sometimes come from unexpected sources. Consider for example the 2008 Nobel prize for chemistry, awarded for the…

San Diego Supercomputer Centre completes major storage upgradeSan Diego Supercomputer Centre completes major storage upgrade

— The San Diego Supercomputer Centre (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, has completed a comprehensive upgrade to significantly expand its tape-based…

Popular tags in Technology: graphene · laser · nanotube · semiconductor