SOURCE: Lehigh Technologies

March 04, 2008 09:30 ET

Study Shows That Tires Made With Recycled Rubber Powder Improve Fuel Economy

Representatives From Leading Polymer Institutions and Environmental Organizations Among Advisors in Study That Demonstrates Decrease in Tire's Rolling Resistance

NAPLES, FL--(Marketwire - March 4, 2008) - Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., one of the country's leading environmental engineering firms, and Lehigh Technologies, Inc., a leading manufacturer of ultra-fine engineered rubber powder, announced today the results of a study on the environmental benefits that accrue by using recycled rubber powder as a complement to virgin natural and synthetic rubber in tire manufacturing. Data from the resulting report, "Effects of Air Permeability and Tan Delta on Tire Rolling Resistance, Fuel Consumption, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions," illustrates that tires manufactured with rubber powder would have lower rolling resistance than standard tires, improving a vehicle's fuel economy and decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the environment.

Twenty percent of the energy needed to operate a car is tire-related. This study demonstrates that slight changes in the compound ingredients used when manufacturing tires can lead to significant energy savings. The research showed that incorporating 10 percent engineered rubber powder into a tire tread compound decreases the tan delta by as much as .024, producing a median fuel savings of 3.2 gallons/passenger vehicle/year. If the fuel economy of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. were similarly improved, a fuel savings of 740,000,000 gallons/year would be expected. This would result in 6,900,000 metric ton carbon equivalents (MTCE)/year of GHG emissions savings.

Tests also indicated that tires containing engineered rubber powder demonstrated improved performance with respect to air permeability. Up to a 50 percent decrease in air permeability was shown. Optimally inflated tires are not only safer but also roll more efficiently. This performance improvement would translate into a median fuel savings of 0.7 gallons/passenger vehicle/year. If all passenger vehicles in the U.S. were able to decrease air permeability by 50 percent, a fuel savings of 150,000,000 gallons/year and 1,400,000 MTCE/year of GHG emissions savings would be expected.

"As legislation requirements and consumer demand call for stricter standards in energy consumption, the use of tires made from recycled rubber powder, like that from Lehigh Technologies, will help vehicle manufacturers cost-effectively improve the fuel economy of cars and trucks without compromising the rolling resistance, durability or wet traction of the tire," said Dennis Gormley, CEO, Lehigh Technologies. "While this study focused on comparisons to a standard tire, fleet tires can also benefit from rubber powders, allowing tire manufacturers to offset higher-cost ingredients used in fleet tire compound formulations to optimize fuel economy while also maintaining or lowering the overall cost of the tire."

This report comes on the heels of a Clemson University study demonstrating that Lehigh's PolyDyne™ family of engineered rubber powders is chemically active and can add to performance, extending its use beyond just a static filler. Clemson University contributed to this recent study, as did polymer and engineering experts from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Akron. Directors and analysts from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and the National Resources Defense Council served as advisors to the research team.

"Given the tire's crucial role in determining the fuel economy of a vehicle, substantial work is currently being conducted by the tire industry to develop next-generation, highly efficient tire compounds and designs," stated Dr. Jon S. Gerhardt of the University of Akron. "This study makes clear that recycled rubber powders can have a significant impact on this effort in everything from standard passenger car tires to specialized fleet tires while simultaneously offsetting the high prices of virgin natural and synthetic rubbers."

About Lehigh Technologies, Inc.

Lehigh Technologies provides engineered ultra-fine rubber powder that delivers enhanced performance, cost savings and environmental benefits, at a price point that is affordable and sustainable for low-to-high volume applications. Unlike crumb rubber recyclers and other suppliers in the past, Lehigh produces engineered performance fillers, modifiers and additives, enabling manufacturers across a variety of industries to include rubber powder as a strategic ingredient into their manufacturing process without compromising the integrity of their products. Headquartered in Naples, Florida, the company is privately held and backed by major private equity investors. For more information, please visit www.lehightechnologies.com.

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