Schkopau, Germany – The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) claims to have developed a synthetic rubber (SR) with significantly better abrasion properties than natural rubber (NR).
The ‘BISYKA’ SR, which is being targeted at truck tires, was developed in a research project led by Dr Ulrich Wendler at a Fraunhofer pilot plant facility in Schkopau.
The team developed a neodymium-catalysed polyisoprene, with functionalised end groups then added to optimise interaction with components that impact abrasion properties.
Such optimisation “would not be possible with the existing grades currently available on the market," Wendler explained in a 2 April written statement to ERJ.
The project built on research elsewhere at Fraunhofer into organic components that influence rubber-abrasion and into polymers that match the extensional crystallisation behaviour of NR.
The new rubber offers an “excellent alternative” to natural rubber, including for high-performance truck tires, said Wendler.
In comparative track tests, a BISYKA tire lost 600 grams and 0.47mm of tread, compared to 850g and 0.94mm for an equivalent NR tire.
In terms of rolling resistance, the new SR achieved a tire-label rating of B, compared to C for an equivalent NR tire, added the research leader.
The next step is to further optimise BISYKA SR and “adapt the formula of the tread compound for truck tires to the new rubber,” he concluded.