Molecular Rebar Design, LLC (MRD) has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant from the U.S. Department of Energy-Office of Science to develop, build, and test prototype tires for electric vehicles (EVs) using organosilane functionalized carbon nanotubes. The tires will be built and tested by The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
EVs are growing in popularity, but they are heavier and have higher, more instantaneous torque than typical internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. As a result, tires used on electric vehicles may wear up to 30% more quickly than tires on their ICE counterparts. While the unique demands on today’s EV tires can be met through the use of special materials and design, the U.S. Department of Energy, MRD and Goodyear recognize the opportunity for continuous enhancements in the tradeoff between treadwear, rolling resistance, and weight.
“We are very excited to continue the innovative MR-silane project with the U.S. Department of Energy support. Electric vehicles pose a new set of performance requirements for the tire industry, and we feel that our new organosilane modified Molecular Rebar can be used to meet or exceed those performance requirements,” said August Krupp, Director of Rubber Development for MRD.
This newly awarded Phase II grant (DE-SC20021823) is a continuation of a successful Phase I project. In that project, MRD demonstrated that the use of specially modified Molecular Rebar® carbon nanotubes generated impressive results, including an improved tire tread compound with enhanced abrasion resistance of 25%+, decreased density of 6-7%, and reduced rolling resistance / heat build-up of 20%, based on lab indicators, as compared to a state-of-the-art tread compound. The premise is that longer lasting, more energy efficient tire performance will help adoption of EVs, particularly as it relates to the conversion of vehicle fleets to electric powertrain.
In Phase II, a commercially viable product form of the carbon nanotube material developed in Phase I will be created. That product form development will focus on ease of integration for tire manufacturers and consistency in improved tire performance. The new product will then be used by Goodyear in tire tread rubber compounds to build prototype tires for testing, which will prove the commercial viability and value of these improved tires with new functionalized carbon nanotubes. The prototype tires with organosilane Molecular Rebar will be tested by Goodyear in a comparison to in-use existing tires used on EVs. Success in this prototype test and demonstration will be a key step to implementing this new technology in future tire production.
“As a leader in the world of new mobility, Goodyear has responded to the increasing electrification of vehicles with tires customized to the unique load, torque, noise, range, rolling resistance and performance requirements of EVs”, said Eric Mizner, director, material science, Goodyear. “We’re excited to work with MRD to help continue to advance the performance of EV tires.”
More information on award DE-SC0021823 can be found here, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Portfolio Analysis And Management System website. MRD recognizes and appreciates the letters of support for the Phase II application by Agora Tire, Goodyear, Swan Chemical, and Bridgestone.
Based in Austin, TX, Molecular Rebar Design (MRD) was founded in 2009 with the recognition that there was a significant gap between the theoretical performance of carbon nanotubes and their commercial viability, primarily due to poor dispersibility. That gap is bridged with MRD’s unique capability to produce discrete, surface tailored carbon nanotubes at scale, called Molecular Rebar® (MR). Protected by over 120 granted patents, Molecular Rebar improves mechanical, electrical, thermal, and transport properties, using easily dispersible forms of discrete carbon nanotubes. The MR technology has a wide variety of commercial applications, including rubber, batteries, electronics, 3 D printing and medical applications.
Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies. It employs about 72,000 people and manufactures its products in 57 facilities in 23 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate.