According to company information, it supports this change in methodology to achieve its self-imposed goal to become carbon neutral by the year 2050. High energy for heat and steam is essential for the production of tyres. Because of technical limitations, it is challenging to generate the necessary amount of heat by using electricity only. Thus, hydrogen will enter the scene as promising new source of energy: Sumitomo will use hydrogen to produce tyres without CO2 emissions.
Potential of hydrogen in production
A pilot project, which was supported by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO), is to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen in tyre production. Hydrogen tanks are being tested at Sumitomo’s Shirakawa plant in central Japan at the moment, and the necessary hydrogen is provided by one of Sumitomo’s plants. If the use of hydrogen proves successful, the company will use it worldwide as of 2023.
“Actually, there are several initiatives that we, together with other leading tyre and car manufacturers, have been working on to achieve our ambitious goals,” explains Dr. Bernd Löwenhaupt, Managing Director at Sumitomo Rubber Europe. “Reducing the carbon footprint of our products is vital for our future. Thus, we will remain fully focused on using sustainable materials, extending the service life of our tyre range, and manufacturing tyres based on environmentally friendly processes. The use of hydrogen as energy source will be a major step in the right direction for us, and it will hopefully revolutionise the way we produce our tyres in the coming years.”
Smart Tyre initiative
Apart from changes in the manufacturing process, Falken’s Smart Tyre initiative is another key aspect. According to company information, this initiative will not only focus on progress in materials development and driving performance, but will also look for improvements concerning tyre life, sustainability, and manufacturing. By 2050, the goal of introducing a 100 per cent sustainable tyre to the markets will have been achieved.
According to company information, Falken has been increasing the percentage of biomass in its tyres as a consequence. Rapeseed, pine tree oil, corn and recycled materials have increasingly been added. Currently, Falken tyres are to consist of approximately 25 per cent of biomass. On the road to a fully sustainable tyres, Falken aims to increase biomass proportions to 30 per cent and the share of recycled material to 10 per cent by 2030.