Thu February 11 11:00 am 2021 in category Product news
Winter tires and climate change: Future winter tires save fuel and the environment
The tire industry is reducing its carbon dioxide emissions in four significant ways – Nokian Tyres is an industry pioneer.
Climate change will affect driving in many different ways. Many companies in the automotive and tire industries are working to improve their operations and to do their part in cutting emissions from traffic. Rolling resistance is the largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions from tires, and Nokian Tyres is a pioneer in reducing it. Future winter tires save fuel and the environment.
Cutting emissions is a megatrend in the automotive and tire industries, especially in Europe. This can be seen in everything, from taxation to consumer behavior, and tire manufacturers play a key role in this development. The tire industry can reduce emissions in at least four ways: in raw material production, tire manufacturing, logistics, and in relation to tire use. The latter is especially significant, as approximately one sixth of the car's fuel is used for defeating rolling resistance, and there are hundreds of millions of cars in the world.
– Using lightly rolling tires with the correct inflation pressure will reduce emissions from driving. Drivers can save up to 0.5 liters of fuel per 100 km, saving the environment and money at the same time. The Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 is an example of such a fuel-efficient tire, says Teppo Huovila, Vice President, Quality & Sustainability for Nokian Tyres.
Emissions from factories cut nearly in half
The company has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from tire manufacturing by optimizing the operation and energy efficiency of its factories. The tire industry is energy intensive, which means that the chosen energy source is important. In Finland, Nokian Tyres uses exclusively zero-emission energy, such as hydroelectric power, and there is a solar power plant in front of the highly energy-efficient US factory.
– We want to take significant and tangible steps. We have been working with sustainability for years and have achieved remarkable results: Emissions from our factories are down by 44% from 2013 to 2019, and the rolling resistance of our tires has been reduced by 8% on average since 2013, Huovila explains.
– The improvements have been massive, but our work to reduce rolling resistance is not over. We have already done the easy part, and the tire structure cannot be made much lighter, for example. In the future, we will be focusing on finding entirely new solutions and fine-tuning what we are already using, says Olli Seppälä, Head of R&D for Nokian Tyres.
The results thus far have received international acclaim. For example, Nokian Tyres was the first tire company to have its greenhouse gas reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI)
Emissions are now being cut in logistics and raw materials
The latest developments in the tire industry involve reducing carbon dioxide emissions in raw materials and logistics. Together with its raw material suppliers, Nokian Tyres has launched a project to cut its raw material emissions by one fourth during the 2020s. A similarly remarkable step can be taken in the transport of completed tires.
Furthermore, Nokian Tyres is researching opportunities for using bio-based materials in tire manufacturing. For example, the company has been using canola oil, a natural product, as a softener for more than 10 years.
– We have been a tire industry pioneer in many matters related to biomaterials. It is natural for a Nordic company to want to make our products as ecological as possible, Teppo Huovila says.
Nokian Tyres is testing various biomaterials. In Spain, for example, the company is monitoring efforts to grow guayule and researching the possibility of finding alternatives for natural rubber
with guayule. Natural rubber usually accounts for 20–25% of the tire's weight.
Developing a tool for studying wear resistance
When Nokian Tyres asked drivers about what they wanted for their winter tires, safety was the clear winner. The survey was conducted in spring 2020, and it received responses from more than 3,000 people in Finland, Sweden, and Norway. When they were asked about the future direction that they wanted for winter tires, rolling resistance was the number one pick from the options provided. Nearly just as many wanted a tire that could use sensor technology to react to varying weather or a tire that would save the environment by wearing down as slowly as possible.
Slowing down tire wear is a question of driving safety, economy, and the environment. Nokian Tyres has been able to develop its rubber compounds and improve the durability of its tires significantly over the past five years. The company is now involved in a workgroup that develops an abrasion test method for studying the wear resistance of tires.
– This is important, pioneering work. We aim to provide legislators with a tool to measure and compare tire wear during their use. Once the tool is complete, it can be used to classify tires in terms of wear, says SRA Manager Jarmo Sunnari from Nokian Tyres.
Utilizing decommissioned tires is also a part of sustainability. Decommissioned tires can be sold to the energy industry, where they are incinerated and the generated energy is recovered. The material can also be used for road and ground construction.
– Europe is recycling approximately 95% of tires, while the Nordic countries are nearly at 100%. All of the materials are utilized in one way or another, Sunnari says.
Nokian Tyres and sustainability:
This is how Nokian Tyres is reducing its CO2 emissions:
Nokian Tyres plc
Corporate Communications Manager Tarja Kuittinen, tel. +358 10 401 7912 [email protected]