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Vision Airless Tire to Spawn Fully-Sustainable Michelin Rubber by 2050

Back in 2017, one of the leading players on the tire market, Michelin, presented the Vision. It was a 3D-printed thing that combined wheel and tire into a single piece of hardware, but most importantly, it was made from bio-sourced, biodegradable materials. And that inspired a bold move from the French company.
Michelin Vision tires 7 photos
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Last week, Michelin announced it is targeting 2050 for a complete switch to “renewable, recycled, bio-sourced or otherwise sustainable materials” for the products it makes.

Historically, rubber for tires was initially sourced from rubber trees, and the increasing need for them led to massive deforestations over the course of the last century. Before the start of the Second World War, synthetic rubber was invented to cope with the increasing demand. Presently, an average tire is made up, according to National Geographic, of 19 percent natural and 24 percent synthetic rubber.

The rest of the tire’s composition includes a lot of other materials, including metal, and making each car tire today takes about 7 gallons (25-liters) of oil, as per the same source.

Michelin says it already uses 30 percent sustainable materials in its tires, but plans to bump that to 100 percent by the said deadline. It will use biomass from wood, rice husks, leaves, corn stalks and other plant waste, recycled styrene from plastics found in packaging, and pure monomers deconstructed from PET plastic.

To support the ambitious plan, the tire maker will build its first tire recycling plant together with Swedish company Enviro. The facility will be used to recover carbon black, pyrolysis oil, steel, gas and other reusable materials from end-of-life tires.

“Michelin’s maturity in materials technology stems from the strength of its R&D capabilities, which are supported by 6,000 people working in seven research and development centers around the world and mastering 350 areas of expertise,” the company said in a statement.

“The commitment of these engineers, researchers, chemists and developers has led to the filing of 10,000 patents covering tire design and manufacturing. They work hard every day to find the recipes that will improve tire safety, durability, ride and other performance features, while helping to make them 100% sustainable by 2050.”

Below is a video showing what goes into one of today’s Michelin tires.



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