Researchers invent process to produce renewable tires from trees

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A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota, USA, has invented a new technology to produce tires from trees and grasses, in a process that could shift the tire production industry toward using renewable resources found in backyards.

The car tires, produced from biomass that includes trees and grasses, would be identical to existing car tires, with the same chemical make-up, color, shape and performance.

The University of Minnesota, through its Office for Technology Commercialization, has applied for a patent on the renewable rubber technology and plans to license the technology to companies interested in commercializing it.

“Our team created a new chemical process to make isoprene, the key molecule in car tires, from natural products like trees, grasses, or corn,” said Paul Dauenhauer, a University of Minnesota associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science and lead researcher of the study.

Carol Bessel, the deputy director for the chemistry division at the National Science Foundation, which funds the Center for Sustainable Polymers, said, “Collaboration was really the key to this research taking biomass all the way to isoprene. This collaboration and synergy among researchers with different approaches and skills is really what we are trying to promote within the NSF Centers for Chemical Innovation Program.”

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the ground-breaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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