Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research in Germany claims to have developed synthetic rubber that has superior character to natural rubber. “Our synthetic rubber BISYKA – that’s a German abbreviation for “biomimetic synthetic rubber” – actually has superior characteristics to natural rubber,” says Dr. Ulrich Wendler, who heads the project at the Fraunhofer Pilot Plant Center for Polymer Synthesis and Processing PAZ in the German municipality of Schkopau.
“Tyres made of the synthetic rubber lose 30 per cent less mass than equivalent tyres made of natural rubber. On top of that, the synthetic tyres have only half the tread loss. Furthermore, the synthetic rubber can be produced on an industrial scale using existing plants and equipment. This means that the synthetic rubber offers an excellent alternative to natural rubber – including the do-main of high-performance truck tyres.”
During a performance test on the tyre made from BISYKA rubber compared to a tyre with a tread made from natural rubber, the tyre with NR based tread lost more rubber compared to synthetic based rubber tyre,
While the natural rubber tyre was 850 grams lighter after the test and lost 0.94 millimeters of tread, the BISYKA tyre lost merely 600 grams and 0.47 millimeters of tread.
The rolling resistance of the synthetic rubber was also better: While the natural rubber achieved a score of C on the traffic light labelling of the rolling resistance, BISYKA achieved the higher score of B.
“So far, we have only carried out initial tests with the BISYKA tyre blend, but they are extremely promising. As the next step, we want to further optimize the BISYKA rubber. This concerns above all the proportion and the composition of the organic components. At the same time, we will adapt the formula of the tread compound for truck tyres to the new rubber,” says Wendler.
Currently, institute is looking for cooperation partners who will bring the product to the market.
The problem with natural rubber is that the security of supply for this important raw material is endangered. In Brazil, the original home of the rubber tree, the fungus Microcyclus ulei is laying waste to whole plantations. If the fungus crosses over to Asia, where major cultivation areas are located, the global production of rubber will be threatened.