Goodyear replaces petroleum-based oils with soybean oils in their tire production. Besides replacing a fossil raw material with a bio-based material, the use of soybean oil also promotes resource efficiency. Goodyear’s tests have shown rubber made with soybean oil mixes more easily in the silica-reinforced compounds used in manufacturing certain tires, improving manufacturing efficiency and reducing energy consumption.
As only 65% of the soybean oil produced in the US is used in food applications, a significant surplus is available for valorization. Goodyear’s innovation proves that research and development in sustainable materials can benefit not only the environment, but also tire performance. For example, soybean oil helps keep a tire’s rubber compound pliable in changing temperatures. This has proven beneficial in the production of all-weather tires, helping to make this important business segment more accessible. This highlights the value of continued research and use of this innovative technology going forward. Goodyear aims to replace all petroleum derived oils by 2040.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company values its customer relationships and is very responsive to their needs and requirements. We also strive to be an excellent corporate citizen. In addition to continuously improving product quality and developing new, innovative technologies, we must also work to build a better future for the world around us. In our view, providing plant-based oil containing tires will also help our customers, particularly automobile manufacturers, fulfill their pledges to transition to renewable and sustainable components in their products.
Historically, petroleum-derived oils have been used as cost-effective compounding agents in the production of rubber products. Recently, however, a shift from partially hydrogenated oils in diets has created a surplus of soybean oil, a coproduct of soy grown for protein. While petroleum oil is a non-renewable resource that cannot be readily replaced by natural means, soy is biobased. These are the dominant factors making natural oils more attractive for use as compounding agents in rubber products.
The use of soybean oil (SBO) in place of petroleum-based oils such as medium extracted solvate (MES) and distillate aromatic extract (DAE) oils in tires is appealing for many reasons – it is sourced domestically in the US, is abundant, renewable, and possesses key attributes required of tire oils such as thermal stability and chemical and physical compatibility. In collaboration with the United Soybean Board, Goodyear has developed and commercialized polymer and compound technologies leveraging the unique properties of soybean oil, resulting in improved tire performance and reduced petroleum oil usage.
Our R&D activities have resulted in the commericalization of multiple SBO-containing polymer and compound technologies. We also discovered the replacement of petroleum oil with SBO can improve compound mixing efficiency by 7-15% – as measured by Banbury mix minutes per 1000 pounds – depending on the compound, resulting in energy savings. SBO used in our products replaces at least an equal , and often larger, volume of petroleum-based oil. We also recognized the need to formalize responsible procurement standards for SBO and drafted our Soybean Oil Procurement Policy targeted for finalization in 2020.
Goodyear researchers are constantly evaluating new material technologies that can provide performance benefits in our products. We discovered that in addition to SBO being a bio-based material, it also possesses unique properties that we were able to leverage to break traditional performance trade-offs and expand the overall performance attributes in some of our premium passenger tire products. The business case for the use of SBO is driven primarily by the enhanced tire performance enabled with its use. Premium performance, combined with a sustainability aspect, attracts consumers and fleets.
Goodyear is committed to sustainability, and as published in our Corporate Responsibility Report, Goodyear announced sustainability goals around the increased use of SBO in its products. By the end of 2019, Goodyear increased the use of SBO in place of petroleum-based oil by 90%, significantly outpacing the near-term goal of a 25% increase by 2020. Goodyear also announced a long-term goal of full petroleum oil replacement in its products by 2040. These goals are supported by the established versatility of the technology, along with the demonstrated performance and processing advantages.