Orange Tires Are Still Black, But Also Green

Gary S. Vasilash

While tires are produced with a variety of materials, there is only one company in the world that produces tires with orange oil. No, that isn’t the nickname of something that’s more exotic. It is simply oil from oranges.

“Yokohama is the first—and only—tire manufacturer in the world to employ orange oil technology,” said Yasushi Tanaka, Yokohama Tire president and CEO.

And this isn’t just a matter of squirting some oil into the compound, either.

Yokohama BluEarth

Rather, they use it to develop a nano blend: Oil from orange peels is mixed with fine silica and a blend polymer to create a compound that they call “BluEarth-1.”

Not only does this compound reduce the amount of petroleum needed for tire manufacture, but it also provides a tire with reduced rolling resistance—on the order of 20%.

Tires with BluEarth-1—the Super E-spec--have launched in Japan in Europe. They will arrive in the U.S. in 2012, with applications including the Prius, MINI, and VW Golf and Jetta.

By the way: If you happen to be in Boston between within the next two years, you can check out this tech at the Museum of Science, where there is a “Making a Greener Tire” interactive display.