LCA Confirms Significant CO2 Reduction in CarbonX Tires

Reducing tire-related emissions in the use phase could provide OEMs with the net savings they need to meet the latest CO2 emission targets – just by switching out their tires!

 

Passenger cars currently contribute about 12% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions, putting the automotive industry at the forefront of global climate change legislation. As of January 2020, Regulation EU 2019/631 requires car manufacturers to reduce the average CO2 emissions of all new cars they produce down to 95 gCO2/km.

OEMs that fail to meet their targets risk billions in fines. As phase-in mechanisms expire and regulations get tougher, they will have to combine innovative solutions and strategies to maximize their potential CO2 savings.

CarbonX shows why tires should not be overlooked and how its solution can instantly help OEMs to catch up to their targets.

 
OEMs struggle to close new emissions gap

A recent ICCT report shows that most major car manufacturers met their 2020 CO2 targets thanks to phase-in provisions and flexible compliance mechanisms, but their actual emissions performance ranged from 97 gCO2/km to 119 gCO2/km.

Another indication that OEMs are missing the mark is that the average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars registered in the EU, Iceland, Norway, and the UK in 2020 was 108 gCO2/km – still 13 grams and 12% away from the target.

Fleet-wide penalties of €95 for every gram of excess emissions per vehicle can add up quickly, and emission targets will only get tougher, dropping to 81 gCO2/km in 2025 and 59 gCO2/km in 2030.

OEMs cannot afford to overlook solutions that can help them close their emissions gap – not just in the future, but right now.

 

Tires: an overlooked opportunity for CO2 reduction?

Tires account for up to 20% of a vehicle’s overall fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, which could make the difference between achieving the latest target – and not.

Up until now, the most effective way to make tires more fuel-efficient has been to reduce rolling resistance, which is responsible for 95% of fuel consumption in tires. Unfortunately, conventional tires have reached their capacity to improve fuel efficiency any further without compromising performance.

The lack of real solutions in recent years limits the CO2 reduction that could be achieved by tires. So many tire manufacturers have shifted their sustainability efforts to focus on raw materials and production instead – but with limited success.

 

Sustainable production: is it enough?

Incorporating sustainable materials, resource efficiency, circularity, and carbon neutrality into sourcing, transport, production, and distribution are all excellent strategies for improving the sustainability of a tire. We’ve already seen how efforts in the tire industry to incorporate recycled or bio-based materials into the final product can lead to lower emissions in production when compared to virgin or oil-based materials.

But recent findings suggest that over 80% of tire-related CO2 emissions are due to vehicle fuel consumption. Which means that if these efforts cannot match or improve fuel efficiency in the use phase, the emissions savings they achieve in the production phase could very well be cancelled out.

So, the billion-dollar question remains: how can tire manufacturers cut emissions in the use phase and end up with a net savings?

LCA confirms 24 kgCO2 reduction in CarbonX tires

CarbonX® is already being used in commercial tires to improve durability. But its ability to improve grip and reduce rolling resistance inspired CarbonX to see if it could be used to partially replace silica as well.

With the substitution of silica as well as carbon black, CarbonX® was able to improve fuel efficiency (13%), durability (21%), and grip (7%) at the same time, effectively outsmarting the limitations of conventional tires typically represented in the ‘magic triangle.’

An independent Life Cycle Analysis1 conducted in August 2021 corroborated these findings and assessed its capacity for CO2 reduction. Using a conservative estimate of 1% fuel savings for every 10% improvement in rolling resistance, the LCA found that CarbonX® improves fuel efficiency by 1.3%. This translates into a reduction of 24 kgCO2 per tire over its lifetime (35,000 km).

 

CarbonX® tires help OEMs meet new emission targets

Based on the LCA, fitting an ‘average’ car with four CarbonX® tires would cut emissions by 96 kg CO2 over 35,000 km – which translates into a reduction of 2.8 gCO2/km.

What that means for car manufacturers exactly depends on what fleet they operate and how close they are to their emission target. OEMs whose actual fleet performance is near the 2020 average, for example, could instantly get 20% closer to their target and avoid millions in fines – simply by fitting their new cars with CarbonX tires!

 

Benefits for tire manufacturers and fleet owners

The ability to reduce tire-related emissions not just in production, but also in the use phase using CarbonX could help tire manufacturers strengthen their value proposition and provide OEMs with the net savings they need to meet the latest CO2 emission targets.

CarbonX® tires could also be used by fleet managers, for example, who want to reduce the carbon footprint of their existing vehicles – and extend those savings to their clients, helping them reduce their own carbon footprint.

 

Tackling emissions from road transport: every bit counts 

There were 3.1 billion tires produced globally in 2020. If CarbonX® were used in all of them, an additional 31 million tonnes CO2 could be saved, the equivalent of taking 6.7 million cars off the road.

When it comes to CO2 reduction in road transport, there is no silver bullet. But there are still significant opportunities to benefit by making tires part of the equation.

 

Want to know more about the data in our life cycle analysis or how CarbonX can help you achieve greater sustainability and CO2 reductions? Visit our Product & Services page to request a copy of the LCA, learn more about how our material works – and how to work with CarbonX!

 

1 Carbon footprint of using CarbonX in car tires: Comparative screening LCA, CE Delft (2021). LCA conducted according to ISO:14040/14044 standards. Available upon request.

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