Brand new in the chemicals and materials hall at Tire Technology Expo 2015 is Solvay’s latest silica. Dubbed Efficium, its key strength is improved processing of the resulting silica compound.
“Processing can be an issue with silica but this overcomes it,” says Jean-Francis Spindler, research and innovation director at Solvay Silica (right). “It’s very simple to process, as easy as carbon black. A regular mixer is fine, so it enables tire makers who currently have difficulties using silica to introduce it. The lower viscosity leads to less warming, which means it’s less corrosive on the machines, too.”
During the preparation of Efficium by Solvay, several products are mixed with it some on the surface, some inside. They change the behavior of the surface, which becomes less hydrophilic and more organic, which in turn makes it easier to combine with the polymer. The result is a potential mixing step saved from four to three stages, or three to two, depending on the mixing technology and the lower viscosity means up to 30% faster extrusion, providing higher productivity without changes to factory equipment. Another claimed benefit is up to 50% longer shelf life for cured polymers that contain Efficium.
“Our testing is very far advanced, adds Spindler. “Many customers are in the tire testing phase and some have tested it on an industrial scale. We are producing it in three plants, we have stock, and within a year there will be tires in the market that use it.”