Japan’s Toyo Tire in collaboration with the University of Toyama have developed a catalyst that converts carbon dioxide to butadiene at a high yield in joint research, and has succeeded in synthesising butadiene rubber, the main raw material for tyres.
Although the ratio of raw materials for automobile tyres varies depending on the type of tyre, butadiene rubber (SBR, BR), which is a raw material derived from petroleum, accounts for about 30% of the synthetic rubber that accounts for about 40% of the rubber other than natural rubber. Against this background, the tyre industry is actively seeking the realisation and utilisation of butadiene rubber using natural alternative raw materials (resources) other than petroleum.
Since 2016, Toyo Tire has been working on the theme of whether carbon dioxide itself can be used as a substitute for petroleum-derived raw materials in the production of butadiene rubber.
It says it has succeeded in creating a route to synthesise butadiene from carbon dioxide, which is considered to be one of the main causes of climate change, which has a significant impact on the global environment. It is thought that significant results can be obtained in minimising the environmental load (carbon dioxide emissions) in the area.
In addition, by adopting carbon dioxide as a starting material for polymerization into butadiene rubber, there is a great possibility that it will be used as a directly effective and powerful material in terms of actual tyre LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) in the future, adds the firm.
The University of Toyama says it is actively working to contribute to the creation of a decarbonised society through the development of high-performance catalysts aimed at recycling carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases. The Research Centre for Carbon-Neutral Material Transformation has been established for the purpose of conducting academic basic research to develop next-generation material transformation technology for society and applied research aimed at its social implementation.
The technology development by both companies is part of this activity, and sufficient catalyst performance has been obtained in the development of inexpensive solid catalysts that do not use expensive precious metals, and the yield is said to be the highest in the world, it claims.
It says, “In the future, we will proceed with the development of a catalyst system for mass production, aiming for practical application by the end of the 2020s.In addition, we are proceeding with research and development to replace rubber and reinforcing agents, which have a large contribution rate, with sustainable materials.”
Toyo Tire is actively promoting sustainable materials by using sustainable materials such as those derived from nature in rubber, as well as in other constituent materials. Equipped with prototype tyres that were adopted for the purpose of participating in off-road races such as the Dakar Rally.
In addition, the company has set a target of “increasing the use of sustainable materials in product development to 40% by 2030”, and by promoting the application of this new technology, it aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.