Goodyear Developing Soybean Tires, Could Conserve 7 Million Gallons Of Oil Each Year

By Mo Mozuch on July 25, 2012 5:46 PM EDT

photo: usatoday.com
photo: Goodyear

Goodyear hopes to have a soybean-oil based rubber tire on the road as early as 2015, the company announced today. The preliminary success of the tire in tests at the company's Innovation Center, as well as improved mixing capabilities at manufacturing centers in Lawton, Okla., have Goodyear researchers and executives optimistic about the tire's potential.  In addition to the 7 millions of gallons of petroleum oil the soybean oil could replace during the manufacturing of the tires, they also reduce energy consumption at the factories and have a tread life that is 10 percent longer than conventional tires.

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"The company found that rubber compounds made with soybean oil blend more easily in the manufacturing process," Goodyear said in a press release. "This can improve plant efficiency and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions."

The tech could prove to be a smart business move for Goodyear as it frees the company, and its bottom line, from the volatility and unpredictable nature of the global petroleum market. It also has a broad-based domestic appeal, as the U.S. is the world's leading supplier of soybeans and soybean oil. The green energy solution combined with an uptick in domestic job creation could turn this into a major P.R. win for Goodyear.

The tires are receiving the backing of the soybean industry as well. The United Soybean Board has pledged $500,000 over the next two years to aid in research and development of the tires.  Soybeans already find their way into a plethora of other products, including paint, pesticide, ink, disinfectants and shampoo. 

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