This one is strange but true. Soya bean is not just good for our health, but can benefit the health of our car tyres as well! Goodyear has found that using soybean oil in tyres can potentially increase tread life by 10% and reduce the use of petroleum-based oil by up to seven million gallons each year. And we all know that fossil fuel is non-renewable.

In addition, testing at Goodyear’s plant in Oklahoma showed improved mixing capabilities in the manufacturing process. The company found that rubber compounds made with soybean oil blend more easily with the silica used in building tyres. This can improve plant efficiency and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Prototype tyres built in Lawton will be tested at Goodyear’s Proving Grounds in San Angelo, Texas in the coming months. If indicators remain positive, Goodyear expects that consumers will be able to purchase tyres made with soybean oil as early as 2015.

The United Soybean Board (USB) is helping fund the Goodyear project with a grant of US$500,000 over two years. Goodyear will display a tyre made with soybean oil next month at Ford’s research center in Dearborn, Michigan, as part of an event sponsored by the USB.

“Consumers benefit through improved tread life, Goodyear gains with increased efficiency and energy savings and we all win whenever there is a positive impact on the environment,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear’s chief technical officer.

The use of soya is just one of the initiatives Goodyear is currently undertaking to increase its use of renewable raw materials. Goodyear and DuPont Industrial Biosciences continue to work together to develop BioIsoprene, a bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene.

BioIsoprene can be used for the production of synthetic rubber, which in turn is an alternative for natural rubber and other elastomers. The development of BioIsoprene will help further reduce the tyre and rubber industry’s dependence on petroleum-derived products.