Goodyear to study silica in space; to improve traction for tyres

July 27, 2018

silica-in-spaceUsing space beyond Earth as the new frontier for development, US tyre company Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company plans to test tyre components in space as part of a project in the International Space Station (ISS) US National Laboratory, through an experiment expected to launch later this year.

In the microgravity environment of the space station, Goodyear will study the formation of silica particles, a common material used in consumer tyres. By gathering knowledge from this evaluation, Goodyear says its engineers and scientists can determine if further investigation of unique forms of precipitated silica should be considered in tyres.

“Goodyear has been a pioneer in tyre innovations related to space, with the first and only tyres on the moon, numerous projects with NASA and now this,” said Eric Mizner, Goodyear’s director of global materials science. “It underscores our passion for going to the ends of the earth – and beyond – to develop new technologies that help us deliver breakthrough products with true consumer benefits.”

Recent academic experiments in microgravity conditions have demonstrated the ability to generate unique morphologies that could show potential in delivering higher performance products. Should a breakthrough take place with this Goodyear investigation onboard the ISS US National Laboratory, it could lead to improvements in fuel efficiency and other performance factors.

The in-space evaluation is being conducted through an agreement with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the organisation tasked by NASA to manage the ISS US National Laboratory.

“The ISS National Lab can provide companies and researchers opportunities to evaluate materials within their product line and in ways not previously possible,” said CASIS Director of Commercial Innovation Cynthia Bouthot. “Today’s announcement of Goodyear sending an investigation to the space station further demonstrates that companies are thinking creatively to enhance their product lines, while also looking at humanitarian ways to improve the condition of our planet.”

Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tyre companies. It employs about 64,000 people and manufactures its products in 48 facilities in 22 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centres in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg.

CASIS is the non-profit organisation selected to manage the ISS US National Laboratory with a focus on enabling a new era of space research to improve life on Earth. In this innovative role, CASIS promotes and brokers a diverse range of research in life sciences, physical sciences, remote sensing, technology development, and education. Since 2011, the ISS US National Laboratory portfolio has included hundreds of novel research projects spanning multiple scientific disciplines, all with the intention of benefitting life on Earth. Working together with NASA, CASIS aims to advance the nation’s leadership in commercial space, pursue groundbreaking science not possible on Earth, and leverage the space station to inspire the next generation.

ISS US National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the US portion of the space station as the nation’s newest national laboratory to maximise its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other US government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, vantage point in low Earth orbit, and varied environments of space.

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