Continental, the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) and the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France have received a grant worth 43 million core hours of supercomputer time for a joint basic research project.
The project, which aims to drive a fundamental understanding of tire and road wear particles, has been in existence since 2014. Its goal is to learn more about the decomposition of rubber polymers to better understand the wear behavior of tires. The associated simulations of the behavior of complex polymer structures are very time-consuming, hence why the project partners applied for the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) initiative. With the digital computing power granted, the group says they now have the opportunity to perform polymer simulations in greater depth and on a broader scale.
“With the help of the supercomputer, we can, for the first time, perform comprehensive simulations on molecular level. The results of this basic research will contribute to a more complete understanding of the formation of tire and road wear particles, and enable us to design the materials we use for tire construction even more sustainably in the future,” said Andreas Topp, head of materials, process development and industrialization of the tires business area at Continental.
The support granted provides access to the 9.4 petaflops Joliot-Curie supercomputer at the CEA’s Very Large Computing Center (TGCC) in Bruyères-le-Châtel, France. Performing 1,000 trillion calculations per second, it is one of the fastest supercomputers in the European Union.
Many issues about tire and road wear particles are still unresolved. “In recent years, we have systematically invested in the research and development of new, sustainable production processes as well as materials to make future tires even more energy-efficient and sustainable. Such processes are technologically very demanding and require a fundamental understanding of the tire material at various levels,” noted Peter Zmolek, head of materials technology research and development of the tires business area at Continental.
He added, “Our joint research project combines state-of-the-art calculation methods and innovative experimental approaches that give us a comprehensive understanding of the behavior of currently used materials. This technical knowledge is an important reference point, especially when evaluating new materials in terms of their ability to further reduce rolling resistance and tire wear, as well as providing a fundamental understanding of how to recycle polymer chains from end-of-life tires.”