Tire manufacturers are looking to the future more than ever. Continental will be the first to release a connected smart tire to the public, and Bridgestone is developing a new line of environmentally-friendly rubber. Not to be outdone, Michelin has raised the stakes by committing to produce 100 percent sustainable tires by 2050.
The French brand’s hopes rest on the Vision concept it presented in 2017. The airless, eco-friendly, rechargeable and connected prototype serves as the company’s future benchmark. Michelin’s tires already consist of more than 200 ingredients, including alternative materials like synthetic rubber, resins, and silica. The manufacturer currently produces tires with 30-percent natural, recycled, or sustainable raw materials. That number will sharply increase with it 2050 goal.
The loftiness of the 100-percent sustainable goal isn’t lost on Michelin, however. To eke out every advantage possible, the brand is collaborating with leaders in the sustainability space. By replacing oil-derived butadiene with a vegetable-based version, the project could expand its available materials. Other efforts on this front include plastic styrene produced from food containers and insulation panels.
Increasing the building blocks certainly helps, but recycling materials currently in use is just as important. Michelin is also working on technologies to recycle polystyrene and recover pyrolysis oil from used tires. Swedish company Enviro holds patents to pyrolysis oil, gas, and steel recovery technologies, and Michelin will partner with it on the construction of its first comprehensive tire recycling facility.
Additionally, Michelin supports the BlackCycle consortium. The European Union-funded project brings 13 public and private companies together to integrate tire recycling with production. No, Michelin’s goal won’t be an easy feat, but the brand’s current initiatives, partnerships, and projects give them more than a glimmer of hope. Question is, what will a 100 percent sustainable tire look like on a motorcycle? How will it perform?
Yes, tire manufacturers are looking to the future more than ever and Michelin might be the brand with the furthest gaze.