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DE-SC0021823: Longer-Lasting, More Energy Efficient Electric Vehicle Tires Using Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes

Award Status: Active
  • Institution: Molecular Rebar Design, LLC, Austin, TX
  • UEI: LL34B99KR2R4
  • DUNS: 078712611
  • Most Recent Award Date: 08/30/2023
  • Number of Support Periods: 3
  • PM: Wu, Felix
  • Current Budget Period: 08/22/2023 - 08/21/2024
  • Current Project Period: 08/22/2022 - 08/21/2024
  • Supplement Budget Period: N/A

Public Abstract

Longer-lasting, More Energy Efficient Electric Vehicle Tires using Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes-Molecular Rebar Design, LLC, 13477 Fitzhugh Rd., Austin, TX 78736

Swogger, Kurt, Principal Investigator,

Krupp, August, Business Official,

Amount:  $1,145,261



Electric vehicles are growing in popularity, but current tire technology is inadequate for their performance needs. The tires used on electric vehicles today wear up to 30% more quickly than on gas or diesel-powered vehicles, which drives up costs, micro-rubber pollution, and tire waste. Improving the lifetime and energy efficiency of tires for electric vehicles will lower operating costs and further their adoption by both consumers and commercial fleets. In Phase I/II, the invention and utilization of functionalized carbon nanotube technology in new high performance rubber composite formulations for electric vehicle tires is increasing the wear resistance of the tire tread compound and lowering the rolling resistance of the tire, which improves the energy efficiency of a vehicle. The successful development of new rubber composites with dispersed and chemically functionalized carbon nanotubes in Phase I improved tire tread performance. The stated goal in Phase I was to produce a tire tread compound “…with reduced amount of total filler, density decrease of roughly 7% making a lighter weight tire possible. The rolling resistance will decrease by over 10%, the heat buildup will be reduced by about 7%, and the toughness will increase by approximately 25%.” Actual Phase I results surpassed this goal, with the tire tread material developed and tested having improved abrasion resistance of 25%+, decreased density by 6-7%, and reduced rolling resistance / heat build-up of 20%, as compared to a state-of-the-art tread compound. These improvements were achieved through the invention and use of individualized carbon nanotubes functionalized with hydroxyl and carboxyl groups chemically bound with an organosilane and the rubber itself. These results revolutionize rubber composites by reducing the use of typical materials and replacing them with a lesser quantity of the new, highly reinforcing functionalized carbon nanotubes. In Phase II, a commercially viable product form of the carbon nanotube material will be developed, utilizing a robust carrier agent. This development will focus on ease of integration for tire manufacturers and consistency in improved tire performance. The resultant product will be utilized in prototype tire treads to demonstrate the efficacy of the novel rubber composites at real scale. The laboratory results from Phase I will be correlated to tire and vehicle effects in Phase II. Improved rubber composites with the new nanotube product could have future performance-oriented applications in aircraft tires, military tank track pads, and mining equipment. Longer lasting equipment reduces waste, improves efficiency through decreased downtime, and is more cost effective.


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