Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) collaborated with Ibaraki University in Japan to pioneer a technique that can be used observe individual compounds in a tire’s structure more accurately. This technique which uses a newly designed particle beam microscope developed at Ibaraki University can significantly help with future tire development.
The team of researchers and engineers were able to use this technique to observe and analyze the individual materials in a tire’s compound for the first time. According to the team, such analysis gives a tremendous amount of information that can be used to develop high performance tires which deliver high levels of efficiency and wear resistance.
Until now, researchers were not able to analyze the hierarchal structures in a tire’s compound, like the sulfur cross-links which make rubber elastic and are considered to be closely linked to a tire’s strength and degradation. The particle beam microscope has the capability to evaluate mass-produced tire rubber samples and delivers a clear image of the sample making it possible for researchers to accurately breakdown elements or reinforcing agents using individual colors to clearly identify each element.
Dr Bernd Löwenhaupt of Sumitomo Rubber Europe said use of the technique make it possible to evaluate the very structures of tires themselves, giving image data that could potentially be used to design internal structures for future tires which are far more superior when it comes to characteristics like fuel efficiency, wear resistance and rolling resistance. He termed the technique as a “breakthrough” which offered enormous potential for the acceleration of Sumitomo’s material development process.
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