The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has long demonstrated innovation in space, beginning with the company’s key contributions to the lunar landing 50 years ago. Now, onboard SpaceX’s 18th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-18) mission to the space station, Goodyear will be sending a new investigation to space, seeking to develop advanced materials for consumer tires.
Silica is a common material used in consumer tires to help enhance fuel efficiency and traction. While advances in silica technology have been made in many key areas of importance for the tire industry, silica microstructure still represents an area where research would be beneficial. The ISS National Lab investigation from Goodyear will evaluate the formation of precipitated silica particles in the functional absence of gravity onboard the ISS, where the team may be able to observe novel molecular structures or morphologies of silica not previously observed on Earth.
Such insights could have a clear path to industrial application in the development of unique silica structures—which could result in enhanced tire performance. A breakthrough in the research of the effect of silica morphology on rubber compound properties could lead to not only significant improvements in fuel efficiency and transportation cost savings but also possibly environmental benefits to advance global efforts toward sustainable living.
ISS National Lab advanced materials investigations, such as Goodyear’s, have the ability to accelerate applied research, with the potential to bring to market innovative ideas that both demonstrate the industrial capabilities of the ISS to benefit life on Earth and also create a vibrant marketplace in low Earth orbit. Goodyear is one of many private-sector companies helping to pave the way for this exciting future.