Hanover, Germany. Continental plans to use reprocessed polyester obtained from recycled plastic bottles for its tyre production by 2022. The new sustainable polyester yarn will be obtained from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles by a mechanical process and will be used in the construction of the tyre carcass. According to the company this can completely replace conventional polyester.
The tyre manufacturer said that recycling is becoming increasingly important in the design, development and production of premium tyres. By 2050, Continental aims to successively use 100 per cent sustainably produced materials in its tyre products. With the use of recycled PET, the tyre manufacturer hopes to succeed in taking a further step toward a circular economy.
At this year’s IAA MOBILITY in Munich, Continental plans to present a highly innovative concept tyre with polyester yarn made from recycled PET bottles. With the use of recycled polyester yarn, we are taking another important step in the direction of cross-product circular economy, said Dr Andreas Topp, responsible for materials, process development and industrialisation in Continental’s tyre business area.
As early as 2022, we will be able to use material obtained from recycled PET bottles in tyre production. In our innovative recycling process, the fibers are spun from recycled PET without having to break the material down into its components beforehand,” said Dr Topp.
As part of the recycling process, the bottles are first sorted, caps removed and finally mechanically cleaned. After mechanical shredding, they are melted down and granulated followed by solid state polymerisation and a modified spinning process. “Our modified manufacturing process enables us to obtain polyester yarn for tyre construction from PET bottles without any polymerisation process from monomers,” explains Dr. Derren Huang, Chief of Research and Development at OTIZ.
Laboratory and tyre tests conducted by Continental have shown that secondary raw material fibres perform equally well as the fibres used up to now. They have the same quality as virgin PET, are just as stable, and are particularly suitable for tyres due to their breaking strength, toughness and thermal stability.
Conventional PET has long been used as a material in car tyre construction because it retains its shape even under high loads and temperatures and thus ensures safety at all driving speeds. The use of recycled PET conserves valuable resources in tyre construction. According to Continental, a conventional passenger car tyre consists of around 400 grams of polyester yarn. This, means that more than 60 recycled PET bottles can be used for a complete set of vehicle tyres in the future.