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Rhodia Launches New Tire Silicas; Creates Subsidiary for New Chinese Plant

Several major developments regarding Rhodia’s highly dispersible silicas. At the Tire Technology Expo in Cologne last week, Rhodia Silicea introduced its Zeosil Premium range, which is a new generation of high surface area silicas for tires. On Day Two of the conference, Rhodia’s Philippe Cochet discussed the products in a paper entitled “New Silica Technology for High-Performance Tires.” The result of eight years of R&D work, the Zeosil Premium range offers a unique structure that, according to Rhodia, allows for good dispersibility (for a high surface area particle), improved mixing, and good tread reinforcement. In addition, the particle’s new morphology provides greater interaction with the polymer, giving a good balance of reinforcing properties and viscoelasticity.

According to Rhodia’s people on the trade show floor, this range of properties will allow a more favorable balance of the ‘magic triangle’ tread performance characteristics (i.e., rolling resistance, wet grip, and tread wear or abrasion resistance) than was previously possible with HDS. Specifically, the new grade will allow for reduced rolling resistance and good wet grip without the traditional trade-off in tread wear.

From the press release:

Until now, Rhodia’s high performance silica has made it possible – without any reduction in tire wear performance – to improve road grip in wet conditions by 5-10% and reduce rolling resistance by 25%. This lowering of rolling resistance corresponds to a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of approximately 5%. “Zeosil® Premium pushes back these limits even further and provides an additional reduction of almost 10% in rolling resistance, whilst improving road-holding and tire wear resistance”, comments Philippe Cochet, Silica Business Development Manager of Rhodia Silcea.

Also, on February 20, 2008, Rhodia announced the formation of a new company, RSQC (Rhodia Silica Qingdao Chengyang), to manage the construction and operation of its new precipitated silica plant in China. The new plant was announced in November 2007. RSQC will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Rhodia and will be based in Qingdao, where Rhodia already operates a silica plant. The new silica plant is scheduled to start up in July 2009 and will focus on producing highly dispersible silica for fuel-efficient tires. The plant will be built using a modular design to facilitate easy expansion. According to the European Rubber Journal (subscription required), the new plant is expected to be the second largest precipitated silica plant in the world upon start-up and will become the largest plant worldwide after its first expansion.

Here is a link to the Rhodia press releases detailing the Chinese subsidiary and the new Zeosil Premium line. (Click on “News & Events” from the left column.)

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