Concern for the environment is growing daily and rightly so. Electric vehicles, hybrid cars and plug-in hybrids are increasing in popularity. Did you know that your tyres too play a significant role in preserving the environment?
How exactly do tyres contribute to green driving? Let’s find out.
Tyres and the Environment
In general, tyres do not have a very good name when it comes to environmental friendliness; the fact that they are composed of rubber and several chemical additives works against them. The process of tyre manufacturing includes several chemical processes that involve heating natural and/or synthetic rubber and fusing it on to a steel framework. Certainly not environment friendly!
Yet tyres today do play a big role in green driving.
Introducing: Green Tyres
Eco friendly tyres, popularly known as green tyres, are equipped with certain technologies that reduce the environmental impact of driving. Driving pollutes the atmosphere with carbon dioxide emissions. Modern tyre design and technology is helping counter that.
The fuel efficiency of your car depends significantly on your tyres. While moving (rolling) on the roads, tyres encounter a frictional force, also called rolling resistance, which resists the movement of the tyre. The tyres need greater energy to overcome this resistance, which comes from fuel, thereby pushing up fuel consumption and thus increasing the carbon dioxide emissions.
The first step in creating eco friendly tyres is therefore to create tyres with significantly reduced rolling resistance. With low rolling resistance, fuel efficiency increases, reducing fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
Green Tyre Technologies in Practice
Tyre manufacturers are exploring innovative alternatives to produce tyres that reduce their environmental footprint, without compromise on performance and safety. Reducing rolling resistance of tyres has an impact on the wet braking ability. Manufacturers, therefore have to ensure that there is an ideal balance between the two.
In its Cinturato range, Pirelli Tyres has incorporated several eco-compatible materials, thus reducing the environmental impact at the production stage and over the life of the tyre. The Green Performance technology of these tyres reduces rolling resistance by 20% bringing down fuel consumption by 4% with corresponding reduction in emission levels.
Bridgestone has its Ecopia range of tyres, Continental its ContiEcoContact range and Michelin’s Green X range are some examples of tyres with low rolling resistance and corresponding high fuel efficiency and green nature.
Companies are also exploring the use of innovative eco friendly materials in tyre composition to reduce the environmental impact of tyres. Yokohama Tyres uses orange oil as a substitute for part of the carbon polymer content. These tyres have the same high grip characteristics without the polluting effects of carbon black. In its Primacy MXM4 tyres, Michelin recently announced the inclusion of sunflower oil as a substitute for part of the carbon content to improve the green character of these tyres. Goodyear Tyres uses polymer filler derived from cornstarch in its bioTRED range to maintain high levels of grip and to reduce fuel consumption.
Innovation and R&D is a continuous process in the tyre industry. It is only a matter of time before green technology in tyres moves to the next level.
What You Can Do
Driving on underinflated tyres greatly increases the rolling resistance and thereby harmful emissions, besides being unsafe. As a responsible vehicle owner, check your tyre pressure at least once a month. Best practice driving techniques and tyre care will also ensure that your tyres last longer, removing the need for more frequent tyre purchases. This decreased demand for new tyres will directly reduce the burden of tyres on the environment.