AKRON, OHIO – The Goodyear Tire & Rubber company announced its researchers have found that using soybean oil in tires could potentially increase tread life by 10%. Goodyear said using soybean oil would also reduce its use of petroleum-based oil in manufacturing by up to 7 million gallons per year.

The company plans to manufacture prototype tires at its proving grounds in San Angelo, Texas, in the coming months. The company said that if the prototype tires demonstrate good performance characteristics, it could begin manufacturing tires that use a blend of soybean oil and petroleum by 2015.

The United Soybean Board (USB) has contributed a $500,000 grant to Goodyear. The USB will distribute the funds over the next two years, according to Goodyear.

In addition to tires incorporating soybean oil, Goodyear said it has been working with DuPont Industrial Biosciences to develop BioIsoprene, an alternative to isoprene, which is petroleum-based, used to make tires.

Goodyear also noted its Air Maintenance Technology (AMT) is in development. This technology is designed to keep tires inflated at an optimum pressure level without the need for any external pumps or electronics.