Nanotechnology and Tyres Greening industry and transport
The use of new nanomaterials in tyre production could help foster the sustainability of the tyre industry and reduce the environmental impact of vehicles, if the potential environmental, health and safety risks of the technology are managed carefully.
This brochure presents some of the conclusions from the OECD report on Nanotechnology and Tyres: Greening Industry and Transport
NANOTECHNOLOGY AND TYRES KEY MESSAGES
In the context of growing global challenges – including environmental degradation, resource scarcity and climate change – encouraging the green growth of industry is a key goal in many countries. The potential of nanotechnologies to contribute to this goal is significant; yet many of the policy implications are still unclear. Due to their diverse nature, there is a need for specific analysis of nanotechnology applications in real-world contexts.
The tyre industry is an interesting case because the environmental challenges related to this sector are significant and growing – they account for 15-30% of a vehicle’s fuel consumption, and over a billion tyres currently reach the end of their lives each year. To meet these challenges the industry will need to undergo a major transition – by 2030 the number of road vehicles is expected to double, yet it is not feasible to service this demand for tyres using current production methods.
New nanomaterials offer promising avenues for future innovation, which can contribute to the sustainability and resource efficiency of the tyre industry and of the transport sector. They have the potential to decrease tyre rolling resistance (improving fuel consumption and CO2 emissions) and lower wear resistance (increasing tyre lifetime), while maintaining wet grip and existing safety levels.
The use of new nanomaterials in tyre production could help foster the sustainability of the tyre industry and reduce the environmental impact of vehicles, as long as the potential environmental, health and safety risks of the technology are managed carefully.
There is need for a supporting framework and relevant tools to guide decision making in assessing the economic, social and ecological impacts of the introduction of new nanomaterials in tyre production. In particular, the development of industry-specific guidance to assess the environmental, health and safety risks at various stages of product development is critical.
• The OECD report entitled Nanotechnology and Tyres: Greening industry and transport highlights the potential of new nanomaterials whilst analysing the challenges for their safe and sustainable introduction in the tyre industry.
OECD POLICY PERSPECTIVES NANOTECHNOLOGY AND TYRES - 1
Status of the technology
The tyre industry is highly innovative and has already
help to address the scientific challenges – particularly
shown the capability to commercialise nanotechnologies.
around EHS issues – and encourage the responsible
Modern tyres have used nanoscale materials (carbon
development of new technologies.
black and silica) for decades to achieve performance levels far higher than would be possible otherwise.
At the later stages of development, market pull factors
Indeed, rubber tyres are currently the biggest commercial
become more important. Several historical examples
market for nanomaterials. However, the technical limits of
show that the tyre market is able to completely
these current options are being reached. Looking forward,
transform when their customers demand it. Conversely,
new nanotechnologies are one of the most promising
uptake of new technologies can stagnate for decades if
avenues for future innovation, which could contribute
the market conditions are not supportive. For example,
towards the sustainability and resource efficiency of the
fuel-efficient tyres using nanoscale silica have been much
tyre industry. A number of policy options could be used
more successful in Europe compared to the United States
to encourage development of nanotechnologies in the tyre
and China. A combination of policy and market factors
industry (see table 1).
have contributed to this situation, including differences in fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, fuel prices and
Nevertheless, there are still barriers to innovation. For
new nanotechnologies at an early stage of development, key barriers to development include the increased cost of materials, lack of reliable and scalable production techniques, and uncertainty over environmental, health and safety (EHS) risks. Additionally, development times in the industry are long due to the particular difficulty of dispersing nanomaterials in the rubber matrix and the need to ensure high levels of safety. Public support could
New nanotechnologies are one of the most promising avenues for future innovation, which could contribute towards the sustainability and resource efficiency of the tyre industry
Table 1: Policy options to encourage innovation in nanotechnology for the tyre industry Encourages innovation in which tyre performance parameters? Policy instrument
Effects on tyre industry
Minimum standards for tyre performance
Rolling resistance (fuel use)
Wear resistance (tyre life)
Wet grip (safety)
Removes the worst-performing products
Vehicle fuel efficiency standards
Stimulates OEM demand for efficient tyres
Innovation to reach the higher ratings & consumer awareness
Technology push (able to incortporate new nanomaterials)
End-of-life treatment regulation for tyres Fuel taxation
Leads to higher costs for recycling Increases the benefit of fuelsaving tyres
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An indication of how the policy framework might evolve as the technology matures is provided in Figure 1. At the early stages of development, technology and economic factors are very important, although anticipation of market demand is needed to encourage investment. As the technology matures the need for R&D decreases, while market pull factors gain importance. Uncertainty over EHS risks appear to be a concern even for some of the new nanomaterials that are close to market, and differing regulatory frameworks can affect innovation at all stages of development. Policy opportunities for improving tyre-rolling resistance (a key determinant of tyre-related fuel consumption) are well-developed in several countries, particularly with respect to vehicle fuel efficiency standards. Specific legislation to reduce the impacts that tyres have on vehicle fuel efficiency is relatively recent, with the European tyre label and minimum standards for rolling resistance being key examples. Good practice policies should include elements to ensure that high levels of safety are maintained, due to the potential trade-offs between different tyre performance parameters. Similar policies could also be used to encourage tyres with longer lifetimes, but difficulties in creating standardised test methods have hampered their introduction.
Figure 1: Evolution of policy framework as technology matures Challenges
Uncertainty over EHS risks
R&D support, guidelines
Differing regulatory frameworks
Increased cost of nanomaterials
R&D support, foster knowledge sharing
Lack of demand from OEMs
Fuel economy regulations, minimum standards
Importance as technology matures
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Socio-economic impacts of the development of new nanomaterials in tyre production
The OECD report also aimed to inform policy makers about the potential economic, environmental and social benefits of using new nanotechnologies in tyres. Two new nanomaterials that are just entering the market were analysed in detail, in terms of their impacts on rolling resistance (fuel consumption) and wear resistance (tyre life time), while maintaining wet grip (safety):
A new generation of silica technology, known as High Dispersion High Surface area (HD-HS) silica.
Nanoclays used in tyre inner liners.
Table 2 summarises the key properties of the case study nanomaterials, indexed against carbon black, which is currently the main reinforcing agent used in tyres.
Table 2: Summary of case study nanomaterials Tyre performance benefits Nanomaterial
Rolling resistance (fuel use)
Wear resistance (tyre life)
Wet grip (safety)
(up to 25% improvement)
(up to 20% improvement)
(up to 10% improvement)
(up to 30% improvement)
(up to 20% improvement)
(up to 10% improvement)
Carbon black (mature market stage) Conventional HF Silica (mature market stage) New generation HD-HS Silica (market entry) Nanoclay (market entry)
✓ (a few per cent improvement)
✓ (a few per cent improvement)
Key: - : indicates negligible improvement relative to carbon black ✓ : indicates some improvement (<10%) ✓ ✓: indicates significant improvement (>10%)
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A cost-benefit analysis was conducted to inform policy makers of the potential future impacts that could be expected from uptake of new types of nanotechnology in tyres. The scenarios explored here are not intended to act as forecasts; rather, they are intended to inform policy makers of the range of potential future impacts that could be expected from uptake of new types of nanotechnology in tyres. Both case study nanomaterials
appear to offer significant net savings to consumers, as shown in Figure 2. All calculations are expressed in terms of the changes due to purchases of new nano-enabled tyres (based on HD-HS silica and nanoclay ) compared to the reference incumbent tyres (carbon black and conventional HD silica). That is, the costs and benefits arise from the different impacts of the nanomaterial part of the tyre.
Figure 2: Breakdown of total discounted costs and benefits to consumers of new nanotechnologies compared to incumbent nanotechnologies in tyres from 2015-35 (sum of EU, USA and China), $ millions HD-HS silica
Net benefit $41,112m
Net benefit $28,304m
Fuel savings 24,331 44,713 -1,638 -18,573
-4,270 Tyre purchase cost Tyre purchase Longer tyre (replacement) lifetime cost (OEM)
Longer tyre Tyre purchase Tyre purchase lifetime cost cost (replacement) (OEM)
Notes: OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer (tyres on new vehicles); replacement = replacement tyres purchased for existing vehicles. It is assumed that increased costs of tyres on new vehicles are fully passed through to consumers. A social discount factor of 3% is used to discount net benefits to the year of market entry (2015).
The cost-benefit analysis found that most of the net benefits were to consumers, with relatively small net benefits to producers and small reductions in environmental externalities. In the case of environmental externalities, this was partly due to a lack of reliable methods to monetise benefits in this area. In addition, many other impacts on society and the environment are not easily incorporated into a cost-benefit framework; therefore a qualitative analysis was also conducted. Table 3 overleaf shows the overall quantitative and qualitative assessment of the case study new nanomaterials, with impacts ranked from strongly negative to strongly positive. Economic and environmental impacts are positive on the whole, with particular benefits to consumers. Societal impacts could arise from impacts on employment, accidents and on developing economies.
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Table 3: Overall assessment of case study new generation nanomaterials compared to incumbent nanomaterials
Economic impacts Consumer benefits
✓✓ Increase in consumer benefits over period 2015-35 of $41,100 million (discounted)
✓✓ Increase in consumer benefits over period 2015-35 of $28,300 million (discounted)
✓✓ Increase in producer benefits over period 2015-35 of $5,200 million (discounted)
Increase in producer benefits over period
✓ 2015-35 of $150 million (discounted)
Environmental impacts Environmental externalities (CO2 and air pollutants, monetised)
Reduction in environmental externalities over period 2015-35 of $6,300 million (discounted)
Reduction in environmental externalities over period 2015-35 of $7,500 million (discounted)
Environmental externalities (air pollutants in China – not monetised)
Reduction in air pollutants in 2035 of: 19kt SO2; 79kt NOx; 3kt PM10; 2kt PM2.5
Reduction of air pollutants in 2035 of: 20kt SO2; 84kt NOx; 3kt PM10; 2kt PM2.5
Use of energy
Reduction in natural rubber consumption of 192 thousand tonnes in 2035 (around 6% reduction compared to baseline in 2035)
Reduction in natural rubber consumption of 28 thousand tonnes in 2035 (around 1% reduction compared to baseline in 2035
Reduction in transport fuel consumption of 356 PJ (around 0.7% reduction compared to baseline in 2035)
Reduction in transport fuel consumption of 337 PJ (around 0.6% reduction compared to baseline in 2035)
Social impacts ? Uncertain due to lack of data. Potential exposures and releases of nanomaterials during the use phase are expected to be less likely (due to being bound in the polymer matrix), although there is still a need for this to be verified for new nanomaterials.
Public health and safety
✓ Potential for reduction in road accidents due to better air retention
Employment in the tyre manufacturing industry
Reduction in employment demand of 11,700 jobs due to reduced demand for replacement tyres
Reduction in employment demand of 1,900 jobs due to reduced demand for replacement tyres
Impact on developing economies
? Possible impacts due to reduction in natural rubber exports - mitigation could include education about possible impacts due to nano-enabled tyres and other technology developments, as well as crop switchOing; potential for social benefits if consumers gain access to nano-enabled tyres, although affordability could be an issue
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The impacts on employment and trade depend on a wide variety of factors. For example, if the use of new nanomaterials tends to reduce emplyement demand, this demand also depends on the opportunities for workers to find jobs in other sectors. The reduction in consumption of natural rubber is beneficial in terms of minimising demand for critical raw materials, but many smallholders in developing countries rely on these exports for their livelihoods. The impact on rubber-exporting countries must also be considered in light of other factors such as opportunities to switch to other crops (e.g. palm oil and cocoa) and ongoing efforts by industry to reduce their reliance on natural rubber imports (through seeking alternative sources of natural latex and development of biotechnology alternatives). Overall, the most pressing issue does not appear to be the changes in market conditions due to uptake of new nanotechnologies in tyres per se, but rather the risk that stakeholders might not be prepared for any disruptive effects.
A cost-benefit analysis is most useful when the impacts can be accurately quantified. Currently the uncertainty over EHS risks means this is not practical. The benefits outlined above include reductions in costs to consumers, improvements in tyre industry profitability and reductions in environmental impacts. These benefits must be weighed up against the possibility of introducing a new and uncertain externality relating to nanotechnology EHS risks. While the case study new nanomaterials are expected to bring net benefits, it is this element of risk that could delay their market introduction. Even so, a wide range of products containing nano-scale silica and nanoclays are already available to consumers. Nevertheless, there is a need to ensure that either the EHS impacts are more fully understood, or alternatively that the risk of exposure along the entire value chain are eliminated before the product is brought to market.
Environmental impacts in the context of life-cycle analysis
The results of the Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) generally indicate that fuel consumption in the tyre use phase dominates impacts across the entire life cycle, and that there are potential savings in the use of new types of nano-enabled tyres relative to conventional tyres because of lower rolling-resistance and / or longer tyre lifetimes. The nanomaterial production stage shows high percentage reductions in impacts (i.e., over 25% for emissions and over 10% for Life-Cycle Inventory results) for the production of the HD-HS silica filler relative to production of the baseline mix of HD silica and carbon black. The nanoclay tyre scenario also indicates potential savings relative to baseline tyres but at levels considered statistically insignificant (i.e., less than 25% savings). Nevertheless, although the savings in the production stage are relatively high in percentage terms, the magnitude of the savings is much greater for the in-use stage.
Potential nano-scale releases were estimated separately from other life-cycle emissions using very conservative assumptions and/or release rate estimates. Given sufficient data on the fate, transport, and exposure of a particular substance at the nano-scale, the potential impacts of these releases may be further characterised. This aspect of the LCA offers a framework for estimating magnitude of potential nano-scale releases but definitive conclusions cannot be made at this time due to the number of data gaps. Primary recommendations to improve the LCA framework include: refining the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data for the nanomaterial and tyre manufacturing stages; refining of nanomaterial release rates and environmental compartmentalisation at use and end of life cycle stages; and applying impact assessment factors for nanoscale versus macro-scale substance releases for each environmental compartment to determine potential environmental impacts of estimated nanomaterial releases.
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Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) risks and best practices The OECD report provides a risk-management framework that can be used to develop site- or companyspecific risk assessments or risk management strategies for using nanomaterials as additives in tyres. The framework follows the risk-based decision-making framework discussed in the OECDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s report on Important Issues on Risk Assessment of Manufactured Nanomaterials. The framework focuses on a qualitative approach to assessing and managing risk called the risk/control banding approach, and specifically includes steps for continual revision and improvement based on new research.
For proactive risk assessments, the hazard band and exposure band rankings are fed into a control banding matrix. The control banding matrix provides guidance on the proper selection of control strategies to manage risk.
For retroactive risk assessments, the hazard band and exposure band rankings are fed into a risk banding matrix to provide a qualitative assessment of the risk of a given process.
However, in order to cover all life-cycle stages it is necessary to expand beyond the risk/control banding approach (which focuses on industrial settings). Therefore, the framework also provides guidance on how to evaluate the exposure pathways over all life cycle stages, in order to critically evaluate the exposure potential of the nanomaterial to the general population and ecological endpoints. In the absence of toxicological data for these endpoints and fate and transport data for the nanomaterial, conservative control methodologies that aim to entirely eliminate exposures are recommended.
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EHS best practice and knowledge transfer Whilst many governments are actively engaged in international collaboration, the rapidly evolving nature of nanotechnology poses several challenges to developing regulatory approaches. As such, a growing number of guidelines and voluntary approaches have emerged. Despite this growth, there appears to be data gaps relating to the following areas:
Guidance on specific nanomaterials used in the tyre industry This issue relates to the general state of nano-safety understanding, and is already the subject of much research effort globally.
Industry-specific guidelines In an effort to close this gap, the OECD report sets out a general risk framework that can be used by industry, which should be supported by communication between stakeholders and dissemination of reliable information on nano-safety.
A need for better coverage of end-of-life tyres
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For more information: www.oecd.org/chemicalsafety/nanosafety/