Thursday, July 29, 2010
No. 117: Growing demand for rubber for fuel-efficient tires (July 30, 2010)
JSR Corp. (formerly Japan Synthetic Rubber Co.) decided to increase the production capacity of solution styrene-butadiene rubber (S-SBR) for fuel-efficient tires and with an investment of about five billion yen. The high-function synthetic rubber can control the exothermic heat generated by friction because it allows for tiny adjustments in designing rubber molecules. Demand for fuel-efficient tires is growing rapidly worldwide because of increasing gasoline prices. Besides, Japan introduced the leveling system that asks tire manufacturers to evaluate the fuel-efficiency of their fuel-efficient tires on an autonomous basis. Bridgestone estimates that domestic sales of its fuel-efficient tires will grow nine times to 3 million tires this year over the previous year. JSR is producing S-SBR at full capacity, but orders surpass its production capacity. Japan has nearly 50% share in the world S-SBR market.