ERJ staff report (LMH)
Cologne, Germany - Biotechnology and 'green' raw materials were two topics that drew the crowds at the recent Tire Technology Expo 2012 conference, held 14-16 Feb in Cologne, Germany.
During a session on raw materials for 'greener' tyres, it was standing room only as delegates packed in to learn more about recent trends in silica usage in radial truck tyres, presented by Smithers Rapra.
Polish rubber manufacturer Synthos presented its new grade of neodymium-catalysed butadiene rubber, Synteca 44, while Colin Clarke of Schill + Seilacher outlined the contribution of process additives in green tyre performance and processability.
In terms of biotechnology, there was great interest in the development of alternative rubber crops.
Dr Stephen Ryu of the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience, presented his group's work in the genetic modification of rubber crops, such as guayule, Russian dandelion (taraxcum koksaghyz) and sunflowers, which produce rubber but in small quantities. Ryu showed how the institute is aiming to identify genes to increase production and increase polymer size.
In a talk entitled, â€œThe future of natural rubber: Taraxcum koksaghyz as an alternative source of natural latex and rubber,â€ Prof Dirk PrÃ¼fer of Westphalian Wilhelms-University Muenster outlined the efforts of the university to cultivate the plant and genetically modify it for large-scale production.