Goodyear expands its line of soy-based tires, replacing petroleum base
The Goodyear Metro Miler G152 and G652 tires for transit buses and the Endurance WHA waste haul tire are now made with soybean oil, replacing a portion of the petroleum-based materials used in production.
“Goodyear’s roll out of their first soy-biobased tires for waste haul and city buses is a breakthrough for United States soybean growers and the cities that depend on high-performing and sustainable tires,” says Ralph Lott, a soybean farmer from Seneca Falls, New York, and chair on the United Soybean Board. “City and other fleet leaders have told us they want soy in tires for such heavy equipment. These big tires are another exciting way to deliver sustainable soy to more lives, every day.”
The Metro Miler and Endurance tires make for Goodyear’s fifth and sixth lines of tires containing soy, joining the company’s Assurance WeatherReady, Assurance ComfortDrive, Eagle Exhilarate, Eagle Enforcer All Weather, and some Goodyear racing tires.
This is in continuation of Goodyear’s goal to increase the use of soybean oil in place of petroleum-based oil. Dr. Robert Woloszynek, chief engineer of global material development for Goodyear, says the company’s goal is to create a tire made 100% from sustainable materials by 2030, and fully replace petroleum-derived oils in its products by 2040.
Goodyear previously announced plans to increase the use of soybean oil in its products, with the goal to increase the use of soybean oil replacing petroleum by 25% by the end of 2019. The company exceeded that goal, according to Woloszynek, reaching a 90% increase by the end of 2019, 73% in 2020, and 13% in 2021.
Soy tire production
Goodyear’s use of soybean oil in tire production currently takes advantage of the significant surplus of oil available beyond what is used in food production, says Woloszynek. While nearly 100% of soy protein is used in food/animal feed applications, only 65% of the soybean oil produced is used in food application, leaving a surplus for companies like Goodyear to take advantage of.
The company uses commodity soybean oil in its polymer and tire manufacturing process in many different ways depending on its application. The oils in general are used in tire compounds to reduce viscosity and enable the manufacturing of rubber compounds making up the different components of a tire. It can also help with compound properties like abrasion resistance and tire properties like rolling resistance.
“The performance of a tire made with a soybean oil tread compound does not change,” says Woloszynek. “In our consumer tires, we found that the use of renewable resources like soybean oil helps to create a more sustainable tire, all while enhancing traction in rain and snow with improved tire flexibility in low temperatures.”
United Soybean Board research
This partnership between the USB and Goodyear is a result from the USB’s checkoff research investment.
“The USB is excited to partner with industrial users, and support them in the sustainability attributes they may want to incorporate in their products,” says Ed Lammers, health and nutrition coordinator for the USB. “The customers are demanding more sustainability attributes in long range plans, and that fits [the USB’s] goal very well.”
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Plant-based products like Goodyear’s soy tires help farmers grow demand for soy, a critical component of the USB’s strategic plan with the vision of making partnerships to deliver sustainable soy into “every life, every day.”
Lammers says the USB is involved with many research projects on ways to alter soybeans to develop different properties, such as a higher percentage of meal or protein, increased disease resistance, and — for industrial applications like Goodyear’s tires — oil content. The end results of this research is still years away, but for now, farmers’ supply is able to meet the demand needed in the United States.
The most imminent issue facing soybean oil production is crush capacity, according to Lammers, but says there is a substantial amount of new crush either currently in the process of or planned for construction.