The U.S. Department of Energy is providing funding for a $1.25-million collaborative project between Bridgestone Americas and global coatings company PPG that will focus on improving the fuel efficiency of truck and bus radial tires

The project will make use of PPG’s Agilon silica platform to improve the tires with the goal of delivering prototypes to DOE.

The project is aiming for a 4% to 6% fuel efficiency improvement while also maintaining or improving tire tear strength and tread wear. Research and development work will be completed at PPG’s Monroeville, Penn., facility.

“We are excited to partner with Bridgestone on this important project,” said Anup Jain, PPG vice president. “The DOE funding validates what our preliminary research already has shown – that Agilon performance silica has significant potential as a next-generation filler to help increase truck tire fuel efficiency.”

Agilon is a chemically-modified, precipitated silica that can improve the performance of rubber products in which it is used, according to PPG. The chemical modifications used to produce Agilon make the silica more compatible with the natural rubber used in truck and bus radial tires, allowing it to mix better with the rubber.

While the percentage gains being aimed for are small, PPG estimates that if even 25% of all tractor-trailers on the road improved fuel efficiency by 4%, they would consume 750 million fewer gallons of diesel fuel annually. That reduction could save the industry nearly $2 billion and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 8 million metric tons, according to PPG.

As a global tire and rubber company, Bridgestone said it believes it has a corporate responsibility to produce sustainable products in a sustainable way. The company has a target of a 35% reduction in CO2 emissions from 2005 by 2020.

“Our partnership with PPG was created for our customers,” said Kurt Danielson, president of Bridgestone Commercial Group. “We are constantly working to deliver innovative solutions that not only align with our company’s environmental mission but will also carry cost saving benefits for our truck and bus radial tire customers.”

Originally posted on Trucking Info