Tires take a lot of crude oil to make. Around seven gallons each, actually, which of course is the cause of Al Gore’s hemorrhoids. But a solution is in the works that will utilize renewable feedstocks from sugar cane, corn, corn cobs, switchgrass or other biomasses rather than petroleum. Mmmm, corn tires.
So far there have been issues converting sugars into a substance called isoprene, which is a key ingredient in producing synthetic rubber along with other products such as diapers and feminine hygiene products. But the market is huge and biotires are expected to hit the streets sometime within five years. Goodyear, a research partner in all this, has plans to supplement its use of petroleum-based isoprene with the new BioIsoprene product. I think most will agree that we don’t care what our tires are made out of as long as they’re durable, reasonably-priced, and smell great.