Ahead of his presentation at Tire Technology Expo 2024 in Hannover, Germany, Tetsuya Maeakwa, manager of the material planning department at Sumitomo Rubber Industries, discusses Active Tread, the company’s innovative concept for future mobility.
This is an unprecedented technology, that enables the physical properties of rubber like polybutadiene rubber properties to adapt to changes in road conditions, such as wet conditions. The technology is necessary to realize safety by changing the grip performance of the tire tread.
In general, grip performance in wet conditions is lower than in dry conditions. However, the Active Tread technology makes it possible for the physical properties of the tread compound to change to increase the grip force to its equivalent in dry conditions.
We have engineered the tire’s wet grip performance to be equivalent to dry conditions by adapting the mechanical properties of the tread compound with the Active Tire technology.
We have incorporated reactive chemical bonds and rubber structures that are activated by water or temperature changes. In general, the performance of all the tires is linked, making it difficult to improve only one area of performance in the magic triangle. For example, improving wet grip causes a drop in RR performance. With this technology, it is possible to optimize each performance area independently of the magic triangle cycles, thanks to the active mechanical property change.
We think the Active Tread technology will be beneficial for all drivers. The Active Tread compounds will reduce the amount of resources being used by increasing the number of vehicles that no longer require a seasonal tire changeover. Furthermore, they will improve the safety of autonomous vehicles, which will benefit the future mobility society.
We expect to gain new business opportunities in raw material R&D, tire R&D and testing equipment R&D.