C&EN Senior Editor Alexander Tullo explains that rolling resistance — the friction that tires encounter when rolling — are a major factor in a vehicle’s fuel economy. It can determine up to 20 percent of fuel economy. Overcoming it accounts for 4 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.
For years, tire makers and their raw material suppliers have been eyeing lower rolling resistance as a way to boost fuel economy and promote a cleaner environment. But they have been thwarted by a principle in the tire world called the “magic triangle of tire technology.” It holds that an improvement to rolling resistance has to come at the expense of wet-road grip and durability.
That barrier is now falling, thanks to the development of new materials, including new forms of silica and nanomaterials. These new materials include a nanogel that improves abrasion resistance, grip and rolling resistance of tires as well as a newly-developed resin that helps tires retain air longer. But there’s a catch: Motorists still will have to keep tires properly inflated to take full advantage of the new technology, the article notes.
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