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On the look for new renewable raw materials

The EU has included natural rubber on the list of critical raw materials. Guayule is an opportunity not only for Nokian Tyres but also for the local agriculture and industry in Spain.

We actively look for and test renewable raw materials. Our aim is to find bio-based raw materials for various raw material groups, create eco-friendlier tires, and replace fossil raw materials. We will also reduce the use of harmful substances, thereby improving occupational safety in production. We were the first in our industry to give up the use of high aromatic oils.

Renewable raw materials are also used for improving tires’ properties and performance by modifying the compound property balance at  arying temperatures. The use of new raw materials requires a great deal of product development efforts and testing in order to find the best combination of properties for a tire. In materials development, the use of renewable materials must not alter a tire’s safety characteristics.

The best progress has been made in the use of renewable raw materials with bio-based oils. They are used in order to replace synthetic oils that are based on crude oil. The winter tires that we launched in 2017 use a rubber compound with a bio-based softener that improves the tires’ safety characteristics.

For the new products of 2018, we developed new kinds of grip particles, whose raw material comes from a secondary flow in bio-industry. We conduct research in order to investigate the use of recycled rubber sourced from used tires as a replacement for fossil carbon black.
The use of renewable raw materials has not required us to change our production processes or had any significant effects on the energy consumption in production. However, renewable raw materials often increase the raw material costs of tires.

FINDING altervatives FOR NATURAL RUBBER

A new testing center is currently under construction in Santa Cruz de la Zarza, Spain. We also sponsor a project by a local university and farmers in Santa Cruz de la Zarza that tests growing guayule, a possible replacement for natural rubber in tire manufacture. The EU has included natural rubber on the list of critical raw materials. Guayule is an opportunity not only for Nokian Tyres but also for the local agriculture and industry.

27 different species of guayule that can withstand drought, cold, and heat are cultivated in a half-hectare area. For the local farmers, the new crop, which can survive in harsh conditions, is a suitable alternative for the unprofitable cereal farming. The cultivation of guayule will also develop local seedling production and the use of biomass by industry, improve logistics and create parallel industries.