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Continental unveiling GreenConcept tyre

Continental is unveiling its innovative Conti GreenConcept tyre at this year’s IAA Mobility in Munich, a tyre weighing 7.5kg and consisting of 17 per cent recycled materials.

The tyre maker claims the GreenConcept leverages both “current and emerging technological approaches to the engineering of sustainable tyres for passenger cars” and is part of its commitment to becoming the “most progressive tyre company” in terms of environmental and social responsibility by the year 2030.

David O’Donnell, responsible for Continental’s global tyre original equipment business, said: “Conti GreenConcept underscores our commitment to becoming the most progressive tyre company in terms of environmental and social responsibility by the year 2030, and this ambition applies to every single stage in the value chain.

“The way we see it today, sustainably sourced raw materials, lightweight design and tread renewal are the key ingredients in making future generations of tyres more sustainable. Our concept study exemplifies Continental’s ongoing efforts to fully transition its global tyre production to sustainable materials.”

The Conti GreenConcept tyre will be displayed in Munich fitted on the Volkswagen ID. Life.

David O’Donnell of Continental pictured with the Conti GreenConcept.

Of all raw materials used in the making of Conti GreenConcept, more than half are either from renewable sources or recycled. For all of its tyre production plants, Continental is aiming to fully transition to sustainable raw materials by no later than 2050.

The tyre manufacturer defines “sustainable” as all materials that originate from closed-loop cycles, that have no harmful effects on people or the environment, and are responsibly sourced as well as climate-neutral across their entire supply chains.

The Conti GreenConcept also consists of 35 per cent renewables, Continental claims. Among the bio-materials used are natural rubber from dandelions, silicate from the ash of rice husks, vegetable oils and resins, all leading to a significant reduction in materials from crude oil.

In addition to natural rubber, Continental’s global tyre-production plants are already making widespread use of various other materials such as recycled rubber or vegetable oils.

Continental says the Conti GreenConcept also consists of 17 per cent recycled materials, namely reclaimed steel and recovered carbon black, plus – in an industry first – polyester from recycled plastic bottles for the tyre’s casing.

Continental is planning the gradual rollout of its ContiRe. Tex technology by 2022, thus paving the way for the manufacture of tyres using polyester yarn from recycled PET bottles.

The recycling process does this without the usual intermediate chemical processing steps, and the resulting polyester yarn is then made functionally capable of handling the high mechanical forces to which tyres are subjected.

As a part of the upcycling process, used PET bottles get a new life as polyester high-performance material. Conventional passenger car tyres each consist of roughly 400 grams of polyester yarn.

In manufacturing a set of four tyres, a total of over 60 recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles can be reused, Continental claims.

Another part of the Conti GreenConcept sustainability equation is the special mix of materials made possible by Cokoon – a technology for the eco-friendly bonding of textile reinforcements with rubber compounds, as developed by Continental in partnership with Kordsa.

In the spirit of open-source collaboration, the two partners have been making this technology available to all tyre industry players on a free-of-charge basis since 2019.

The Conti GreenConcept weighs 7.5kg, according to Continental, making it up to 40 per cent lighter than conventional tyres. This weight reduction was made possible by an optimised tread pattern, a special sidewall and a new casing design with a weight-optimised core.

This lightweight design makes the Conti GreenConcept suited for use in next-gen smart vehicles, equipped with sensors and resource-saving drives.

Meanwhile, the tyre maker claims that in-house measurements reveal the Conti GreenConcept’s rolling resistance is to about 25 per cent lower than class “A” – i.e. the best possible rating – under the EU Tyre Label system. This can lead to up to a six per cent greater range for electric vehicles, Continental adds.

The natural rubber used for the Conti GreenConcept tread compound is 100 per cent Taraxagum natural rubber. As a special capability, the tyre concept can be retreaded multiple times, with a minimal investment in terms of both time and materials.

The green-coloured tread baseline marks the transition from tread to casing. Undamaged casings can be reused several times. This means the valuable raw materials that are built into it can be reused. If a tread is renewed three times, for example, this halves the amount of material used for a casing, as seen in terms of its total mileage.

Moreover, a latest-generation Continental sensor inside the tyre, makes predictive driving possible by means of continuous monitoring of temperature, pressure and tread depth. This gives drivers added input so they can make well-informed choices, thus promoting resource-friendly driving.