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PPG partners with Bridgestone on energy-efficient truck tires

The U.S. Department of Energy is funding a partnership between PPG Industries and Bridgestone Americas to develop more fuel-efficient tires for trucks and buses using a specialized silica developed by PPG.

PPG said the DOE is supplying $1.25 million for the project through which the two companies aim to improve the fuel efficiency of large tires by 4 to 6 percent and give them better traction and durability.

The product at the core of the research is Agilon, a type of high-performance silica that the Downtown-based coatings and glass maker said makes tires more fuel efficient by reducing their rolling resistance, improving traction and extending their tread life.

Other silicas are used as filler in tires for passenger vehicles but are not as effective for tractor trailer and bus tires that use natural rubber, PPG said.

Research and development for the project is based at PPG’s research center in Monroeville. Agilon is manufactured at a PPG plant in the Netherlands. The company is increasing its capacity to make the product.

Nashville-based tire giant Bridgestone has its technical headquarters in Akron, Ohio, so PPG is collaborating directly with people there, said Jim Faller, commercial director for precipitated silica in PPG’s specialty coatings and materials segment.

According to PPG, Bridgestone hopes to achieve a 35 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

PPG last year announced that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. had contracted to use Agilon in tires made for sport-utility vehicles in Latin America and elsewhere. The DOE-funded research is PPG’s first collaboration with Bridgestone involving the Agilon technology for trucks and buses, said Mr. Faller.

The prototype tires should be developed in about three years, said Bill Fish, segment manager, rubber products, for PPG.

PPG has added staff in research, development and new product commercialization to work on the project but Mr. Faller declined to say how many.

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