Hanover, Germany – Continental, the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) and the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France have been awarded a grant worth 43 million core hours of supercomputer time for their joint basic research project on tire and road particles.
The project was launched in 2014 and aims to drive “fundamental understanding of tire and road wear particles," said Conti in a 28 June statement.
The study’s objective is to learn more about the decomposition of rubber polymers to better understand the wear behaviour of tires and involves simulating the behaviour of complex polymer structures.
The support comes in the form of access to the 9.4 petaflops Joliot-Curie supercomputer at the CEA's very large computing center (TGCC) in Bruyères-le-Châtel, France.
According to Conti, with a performance of 1,000 trillion calculations per second, the machine is one of the fastest supercomputers in the EU.
"With the help of the supercomputer, we can for the first time perform comprehensive simulations on molecular level,” said Dr Andreas Topp, head of materials, process development and industrialisation of the Tires business area at Continental.
The results of the basic research will contribute to a more complete understanding of the formation of tire and road wear particles, Topp added.
This, he noted, will enable the tire maker to design materials more sustainably in the future.
"We have systematically invested in... materials to make future tires even more energy-efficient and sustainable,” said Dr Peter Zmolek, head of materials technology R&D of the Tires business area at Continental.
The process, however, is technologically very demanding and requires a fundamental understanding of the tire material at various levels, he added.
The joint research, Zmolek said, will help Conti evaluate new materials in terms of their rolling resistance and wear while providing an understanding of how to recycle polymer chains from waste tires.