Environment | Value natural resources
Action1: Reduce raw material consumption Value natural resources

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Our approach

Given the increase in demand accompanying population growth and people’s desires for more convenient lifestyles, there are concerns that, if nothing changes, the growth in demand for raw materials will exceed the earth’s capacity. To avoid this will require constructing systems to decouple the environmental impacts caused by growing demand. To help assist this decoupling, the Bridgestone Group is taking steps to improve our resource productivity.

In the case of tires, for example, we foresee both an ongoing requirement for lower fuel consumption and continuous environmental performance improvements without sacrificing comfort and safety functionality. At the same time, the Group promotes new business models and the development of technology for reducing the volume of raw materials used to make each product.

Examples

Half weight technology

Half weight technology

The Bridgestone Group is developing the technology to reduce the volume of raw material, keeping original durability and safety.

High-strength rubber

We have successfully developed the world’s first*1 polymer to bond rubber and resins at the molecular level in 2018 and received the Environmental Achievement of the Year recognition in March 2019 at the Tire Technology International Awards. This new polymer boasts unprecedented durability with crack resistance that is over five times higher,*2 abrasion resistance that is more than 2.5 times higher,*3 and tensile strength that is more than 1.5 times higher*4 than natural rubber, which itself has higher destruction resistance than common synthetic rubber.

The newly developed polymer, called High Strength Rubber (HSR), is a hybrid material to bond synthetic rubber components such as butadiene and isoprene, with resin components such as ethylene,*5 at the molecular level by using Bridgestone’s proprietary novel gadolinium (Gd) catalyst*6 (via copolymerization*7). HSR boasts levels of durability and abrasion resistance that eclipse those of natural rubber. For this reason, HSR is a promising next-generation tire material with the potential to create tires that achieve the required levels of performance while using less materials. We continue to explore commercial opportunities for this newly developed polymer for tires and other products.

High strength rubber, our first polymer to be successfully developed

  1. Source: Bridgestone Corporation
  2. The figure is based on tests using JIS K 6270 (a strain-controlled method for testing the tensile fatigue properties of vulcanized rubber and thermoplastic rubber).
  3. The figure is based on tests using JIS K 6264-2 (a revised Lambourn abrasion test for determining the abrasion resistance of vulcanized rubber and thermoplastic rubber).
  4. The figure is based on tests using JIS K 6251 (a test for determining the tensile properties of vulcanized rubber and thermoplastic rubber).
  5. Ethylene is a basic material used in creating plastic, synthetic fibers, and other petrochemicals. Polyethylene, which is created through polymerization of ethylene, is the most commonly used synthetic resin.
  6. A gadolinium catalyst is a type of polymerization catalyst developed by Bridgestone that makes it possible to synthesize high-performance rubber.
  7. Copolymerization is a process of reacting two or more monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form polymer chains.

Cutting-edge RRR structure for aircraft tires

The revolutionarily reinforced radial (RRR) tires have a new belt structure using fibers with high elasticity and strength that delivers improved safety performance compared to the previous tire structure. The RRR construction also contributes to a reduction in tire weight of 7 to 10% therefore using less raw material.

https://www.bridgestone.com/products/speciality_tires/aircraft/products/index.html

Composite material research leading to reduced tire weight

Concrete road surface travel result of verification test using a rubber track

The test showed that the wear rate for running durability of the rubber composite developed through this research is 60% lower than that of a standard composite, confirming the validity of the research principle.

A thinner tire reduces the weight of a tire, which improves fuel economy and also saves resources by using fewer raw materials. However, making a tire thinner requires first ensuring sufficient durability, and developing new tough materials that exceed existing technology. Bridgestone has participated in the Cabinet Office’s ImPACT*1initiative, and conducted research aimed at creating an ultrathin, durable, and flexible tough polymer.

We announced the results in 2016. Through this research, we aim to develop a strong material that exceeds previous limits and ultimately create thinner tires that reduce raw material demand.

  1. The Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies Program (ImPACT) aims to generate innovative technologies that if realized would revolutionize industry and society. It was established to promote high-risk, high-impact, ambitious research and development.

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