The project was concerned with standardising the production methods for granulated tyres (by retreading) and enhancing the production methods for the granules. The granules are of non-specified material and are approximately 1mm in size. New Industries Ltd had developed the core methods and equipment for embedding granules into retread tyres to improve the tyre's road resistance, decrease road wear (in comparison with studded tyres) and promote general recycling of tyres. Further development of this Project involved diverse expertise such as adhesive materials, various granule types, coating methods, design of new production equipment and automation. This process of granulating tyres has been patented.
Several tests have been conducted on the concept to verify the characteristics of granulated tyres. At VTI in Sweden, slipping characteristics on wet ice were tested against those of studded tyres and produced very favourable results. Road wear tests performed in Germany showed that granulated tyres wear the road 14 times less than an average of nine different studded tyres. In Iceland noise from granulated tyres was compared with noise from studded tyres and regular tyres, where it was verified that noise levels from a car driving on granulated tyres are similar to those from regular tyres but significantly less than the noise levels from a car driving on studded tyres. In addition to the above tests, extensive user tests have been going on since the beginning of test production in 1994.
Partners in this project with New Industries were Vacu-lug Traction Tyres of England. They manufacture retread truck tyres and almost any tyres for non-commercial vehicles and applications ranging from small fork-lift tyres to large earth-mover tyres. They intended to use the technique for their own production of hot cure tyres as well as promoting it to manufacturers of retread passenger tyres.
The project covered two winters and focused on fully documented user and laboratory tests on the manufactured tyres. Test production was done both at Vacu-lug facilities and in Iceland with the user tests in Iceland and Scandinavia in co-operation with dealers selling Vacu-lug products. Manufacturers of retread machines were approached regarding participation in the implementation phase of the project.
The outcome of the project gave extensive knowledge of the combination of adhesives, granules and coating methods to give the best result from both the consumer and manufacturing point of view. The implementation of the technique to commercial manufacturing involves the design and full automation of the embedding process. During the project a fully automated prototype of a granulating machine with all specifications for further manufacturing will be installed and made ready for commercial manufacturing of granulated tyres.