Continental: sustainable materials in tire production

German company Continental, an international tire manufacturing giant, has been working for years to make a tire that performs increasingly well in terms of sustainability.
The goal is to arrive, by 2050, at production entirely characterized by the use of materials that look toward sustainability.
For this reason, Continental’s materials experts and engineers are studying alternative materials to replace those used to date in making tires.
Natural rubber, which accounts for between 10 and 40% of the entire weight of modern tires, comes from responsibly managed forests.
Continental is also working on the Taraxagum project, to industrialize the extraction of natural rubber from alternative sources such as the root of the dandelion plant.
Silica, used as a filler to optimize grip, rolling resistance and tire life, in the future will be produced from rice husk, a waste from the manufacturing process that cannot be used as food or animal feed.
Silica derived from the ash of rice husks is more energy-efficient than that obtained from conventional materials such as quartz sand.
Plant-based oils, such as rapeseed oil and resins based on residual materials from the paper and wood industries, already offer an alternative to crude-oil-based fillers in Continental’s tires.
Through a pyrolysis process, which breaks down old tires using an industrial furnace, the company aims to recover carbon black so it can be recycled and reused in new tires.
A mechanical processing and separation system, divides the various components so that recycled rubber and recycled steel can be made into new compounds.
Finally, the tire carcass, which currently consists of conventional polyester, will be made from recycled PET obtained from the recovery of bottles.
The company’s goal is to become one of the most cutting-edge companies in the tire industry in terms of sustainability, focusing their efforts on choosing circular materials while maintaining product performance and quality.

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