Tires made out of woodPosted July 21st, 2009 by simmonto
No, we’re not talking about an episode of The Flintstones, but actual OSU Forestry research on mycrocrystalline cellulose — “a product that can be made easily from almost any type of plant fibers,” including trees, “to partially replace silica as a reinforcing filler in the manufacture of rubber tires.”
Yes, you read right: Tires made (in part, anyway) from wood.
A study from Associate Professor of Wood Science Kaichang Li suggests such tires might require less energy to produce, reduce costs, better resist heat buildup, have comparable traction on cold or wet pavement, be just as strong and provide higher fuel efficiency than traditional tires.
“We were surprised at how favorable the results were for the use of this material,” said Kaichang Li of OSU’s College of Forestry, ranked No. 1 in North America. He conducted this research with graduate student Wen Bai. “This could lead to a new generation of automotive tire technology, one of the first fundamental changes to come around in a long time.”
Careful readers will recall that Li is the same guy who invented a type of wood adhesive modeled on the clinging power of ocean mussels that has none of the formaldehydes that make traditional adhesive so noxious. That innovation turned segments of the wood industry on their ear, as manufacturers scrambled to come up with a similarly environmentally friendly adhesive to compete with the company that smartly licensed Li’s work.