Unearthing a new rubber compound

With the support from the United Soybean Board (USB), Goodyear revealed its new naturally derived, cost-effective, carbon-neutral and renewable tire technology—soybean oil in 2017. 

The first commercial use of a new soybean-based rubber compound is helping Goodyear enhance tire performance in dry, wet and winter conditions. A Goodyear team of scientists and engineers created the soy-based tread compound. 

By employing soybean oil in tires, Goodyear found a new way to help keep the rubber compound flexible in changing temperatures, a key performance achievement in maintaining and enhancing grip between the vehicle and the road surface. 

Tests have shown that rubber made with soybean oil mixes more easily in the silica-reinforced compounds used in manufacturing certain tires. This also improves manufacturing efficiency and reduces energy consumption. 

Goodyear collaborated on the project with the USB, a group of farmer-directors who oversee the investments of a check​ off program on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. The USB provided some funding support for the development of soybean oil application in tires. 

The commercialization of soybean oil in tires is the latest technology breakthrough by Goodyear, building on the company’s other recent innovations, such as the use of silica derived from rice husk ash, another component Goodyear is using in certain consumer tires. These innovations follow current and past uses of components such as carbon fiber, DuPont™Kevlar®, volcanic sand and more. 

Following extensive analysis and road testing, this new technology advanced to the point that it is being used in two new Goodyear tires – the Assurance WeatherReady and the Eagle Enforcer All Weather. 

Goodyear discovered that soybean oil could improve tire flexibility at low temperatures, helping the rubber to remain pliable in cold weather and enhancing traction in rain and snow simultaneously. Additionally, Goodyear discovered that soybean oil mixes more easily with rubber compounds used to make tires, leading to reduced energy consumption, therefore improving the manufacturing efficiency.  

Recognizing the breakthrough, Goodyear was presented with the prestigious Tire Technology International Award for Innovation and Excellence in the category of “Environmental Achievement of the Year” during the 2018 Tire Technology Expo in Hannover, Germany. 

"Goodyear's innovative industrialization of soybean oil technology proves that research and development in sustainable materials can benefit not only the environment, but also tire performance," said Graham Heeps, editor, Tire Technology International and chairman of the judging panel. 

A Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady tire created with the soybean-based rubber compound pictured in a soybean field.

Mike Kerns, material​ development manager, Global Materials Science stands with the Environmental Achievement of the Year award during the Tire Technology Expo in Hannover, Germany, in 2018.