Continental will manufacture tires from recycled plastic bottles as early as 2022. More specifically, it is a polyester yarn used in the tire carcass.
The circular economy and all kinds of reuse are growing at a rapid pace. Now the German car industry left Continental to manufacture tires from recycled plastic bottles.
The concept tire is presumably ready, as it has been promised to be presented at the Munich Motor Show. Serial production is scheduled to begin in 2022.
The partner is fiber expert and textile manufacturer Otiz. Continental and Otiz have jointly developed a special technology for recycling PET bottles without the previously necessary chemical intermediates. Thanks to innovative cooperation, the polyester yarn needed for the tire has been developed.
Tires from recycled plastic bottles
Continental will start using recycled polyester from recycled plastic bottles in tire manufacturing from 2022 onwards. Of course, completely whole tires are not intended to be made from recycled plastic bottles, but are part of the tire body.
In the recycling process, the PET bottle is made into a high-performance PET material. The new durable polyester yarn is made mechanically from PET or polyethylene terephthalate bottles and is used specifically in the manufacture of the ring body. The material can completely replace traditional polyester.
- As early as 2022, we will be able to use material from recycled PET bottles in the manufacture of tires. In our innovative recycling process, the fibers are spun from recycled PET without having to separate the material into its components, says Andreas Topp, Ph.D., responsible for materials, process development and industrialization in Continental’s tire business area.
- Already at this year’s IAA Mobility event in Munich, we are presenting a highly innovative concept ring made of polyester yarn made from recycled PET bottles. With the use of recycled polyester yarn, we are taking the next important step towards a circular economy, Topp continues.
In the recycling process, the bottles are sorted and the caps are removed and mechanically cleaned. After mechanical crushing, the bottles are melted and granulated. This is followed by solid state polymerization and a modified spinning process.
“With our modified manufacturing process, we can use polyester yarn from PET bottles to make tires without the monomer polymerization process,” describes Dr. Derren Huang, Otiz’s Director of Research and Development.
Towards a circular economy step by step
Laboratory and tire tests conducted by Continental have shown that recycled fibers work just as well as the fibers used so far. They have the same quality as the original material, are equally stable and are particularly well suited for tires due to their breaking strength, toughness and thermal stability.
Traditional PET has long been used as a material in the manufacture of car tires, as it retains its shape even under high loads and high temperatures, ensuring safety at all driving speeds.
The use of recycled PET saves valuable resources in the manufacture of tires: today, about 400 grams of polyester yarn are needed to make a conventional passenger car tire. This means that more than 60 recycled PET bottles are needed for a complete set of car tires.
- Waste is tomorrow’s production material for us when we think about the model of the future circular economy. Continental’s commitment to actively implementing and promoting this change guarantees a head start for our future business and thus also for profitability, says Claus Petschick, Vice President, Sustainability, Continental’s Tire Business Area.
The importance of recycling is becoming increasingly important in the design, development and manufacture of premium tires. By 2050 at the latest, Continental aims to use fully sustainable materials in its tire products. With Uusio-PET, the tire manufacturer is taking a new step towards a circular economy.
- Our goal is clear: By 2050 at the latest, we will have a completely closed product and resource cycle with our partners and suppliers, Petschick continues.