Competition for the Environment-friendly Innovation Award, a national acknowledgement conceived by Legambiente for company innovation in the environmental sector, is now closed. Its goal is to disseminate sustainability-oriented good practices, while acknowledging the entities that face the environmental challenge as a great opportunity for social and economic development.
One of the companies competing for this year’s prize (which will be given in January) is Directa Plus (which we already mentioned here) – the first start-up in Europe to generate graphene-based industrial products – cooperating with Vittoria Group, a world leading bicycle tire producer.
Both brands developed a new green technology together, bound to revolutionize the two-wheeler world. These are tires made with the addition of small amounts of Graphene Plus (an ultra-thin powder made of nanometric chips of graphene, obtained through the G+ process patented by Directa Plus) to the rubber mix.
Due to its unique properties – including strength (while it is the world’s thinnest and lightest material, it is 50 times stronger than steel) and conductivity – graphene can substitute carbon black (a far more polluting pigment resulting from the incomplete production of heavy oil-derived products). This pigment is generally used to enhance the mechanical properties of rubber and to convey the tread’s heat to the whole surface of the tire’s belt, thus reducing thermal damage.
The small amount of graphene required to perform these tasks (with improved results) means more natural rubber in the mix and, thus, a reduced rolling resistance (i.e. higher speed). In such a product, this value is reduced by 16% with an equally high road grip. Moreover, the innovative material enhances air tightness and therefore the tire’s pressure retention, without affecting its weight. All these elements make the vehicle more sustainable, efficient, fast, and safe.
The same is true when the technology is brought to the automotive sector. Almost 20% of the energy consumed by a car is dispersed as a consequence of “rolling resistance”, and higher fuel consumption results into higher CO2 emissions (as well as higher costs). Something that further confirms the potential environmental and economic benefits of this innovation.
The Editorial Staff
Published on Friday, December 20, 2013