OSU foresters swap tree fibers for rubber in fuel efficient tires

Leave it to a gaggle of brilliant wood science researchers at Oregon State University to figure out that we've been doing this whole "tire" thing wrong for generations now. While studying some uses of microcrystalline cellulose, which can be made easily from practically any type of plant fiber, these Earth-loving gurus discovered that said material could actually improve the efficiency of vehicle tires when used in place of silica. Granted, only about 12 percent of the silica -- which is used as a reinforcing filler in the manufacture of rubber tires -- was swapped out, but the resulting tires gripped just as well in wet weather while decreasing the rolling resistance during those dry summer months. Furthermore, tires constructed with these fibers could be made with less energy, though long-term durability studies are still needed to prove that this whole plan is viable for more than a few thousand miles.

[Via Gizmag]