Pirelli and the University of Milano-Bicocca recently renewed their Corimav joint-venture agreement at an event attended by Pirelli CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera and the rector of the university, Cristina Messa. The collaboration focuses on research into advanced innovative materials.
The Corimav project was born 15 years ago with the objective of developing cutting-edge technologies using new materials, supporting R&D for new patents, and promoting training and careers development opportunities for young researchers.
Over the last few years, the initiative has evolved considerably. The first phase provided scholarships aimed at three principal areas: nano-composite materials, energy transfer (superconductivity and distributed generation) and molecular modeling.
Since 2005, Corimav has provided doctoral scholarships to broaden the range of research and put in place continuous and structured programs. Since 2010, the focus has been specifically on tires. Research activities funded by Pirelli have in particular targeted the study of inorganic materials that can be used in the vulcanization of tire compounds.
Since the Corimav initiative was established, around 20% of the scholarship recipients have gone on to be employed by Pirelli. Among the recent success stories are Luciano Tadiello and Antonio Susanna, who have joined Pirelli’s R&D department and contributed to two patents created by Corimav in the area of new materials for energy-saving tires.
Another innovation to come out of the project has been the use of lignin in the production of tires with a low environmental impact. Lignin is a natural material that has intrinsic antioxidant properties, which when altered by appropriate chemical and physical means, can benefit the mechanical performance of a tire and become a substitute for fossil-derived products (such as carbon black).
Corimav’s green philosophy is not just limited to the production phase and use of a tire, but also to the tire at the end of its life. Researchers have discovered a process of bio-devulcanization in which bacteria and other biological agents are used to treat the tires. Thanks to recent research, it has been possible to isolate bacteria with the capacity to remove sulfur-carbon bonds, which can be used to treat tire constituents at the end of their life with a view to subsequent recycling.
Tronchetti Provera, Pirelli’s vice chairman and CEO, commented, “The experience of the partnership between Pirelli and the University of Milano-Bicocca has underlined how companies and academic institutions can together trigger initiatives that promote both professional and economic growth.
“We are collaborating with a number of different departments within the university which represent excellence at an international level, and help us to turn our most innovative projects into reality, as well as improving our products.”
November 2, 2016