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GE Expands Production Capacity to Meet Strong Demand for Advanced NXT Silane used in Silica Tyres

GE Advanced Materials : 12 April, 2005  (New Product)
GE has expanded its capacity for high technology silanes used in the production of silica tires and other high-performance products.
GE has expanded its capacity for high technology silanes used in the production of silica tires and other high-performance products. Using a proprietary process designed by GE engineers, production start-up commenced in the third quarter of 2004, and last week additional capacity was brought on-line to meet the high demand for this new technology. GE’s NXT silane is produced at a plant in Texas City, Texas. GE declined to disclose its investment in the new capacity for competitive reasons.

“Demand has been very strong for our new NXT silane that helps enable fast and easy dispersion of silica during rubber compounding for silica tires,” said Dr. Ian R. Moore, general manager for GE’s global silanes business. “We are focusing resources on new products and processes, and this is another move in our long-term strategy for growth in the silica tire segment. In fewer than 24 months of design and construction, we developed and deployed an innovative process that delivers vastly increased capacity for silanes.”

NXT silane is a patented GE molecule that helps circumvent the long, slow, multi-step process required when traditional silanes are used to mix silica with rubber for silica tires. Production line throughput can be improved because silica tire compounds can be processed hot, hard, and fast when NXT silane is used.

“Last month we introduced NXT LowV and NXT Ultra-LowV silanes that emit significantly less ethanol during processes that need silanes for coupling unlike materials,” said Wayne Hewett, president and CEO of GE Advanced Materials-Silicones. “GE has widened the manufacturing envelope for mixing silica tire compounds. Our talented scientists and engineers have created and executed a new process to produce NXT silanes. Their innovative process has expanded the NXT silane family with a lower volatile organic compound (VOC) version.”

GE estimates that the tire industry could potentially realize several hundred million dollars in manufacturing cost savings with the new NXT silane technology. “With raw material prices escalating, the NXT silane family of products may offer tire manufacturers significant cost reductions in other areas,” Hewett said.

Tom Stanley, global technology leader for Silicones, said “We have delivered on an accelerated timeline for this new silane process technology, and there will be more good news to come. GE is committed to the NXT silane product line; our team is working with GE’s world renowned Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y. on next generation technology.”

Silica tyres are gaining an edge in the consumer market, because consumers are becoming aware that silica tires offer numerous benefits. Tire-rolling resistance may be reduced up to 20 percent, which can reduce vehicle fuel consumption up to five percent. Silica tread can also improve driving safety by providing better grip on slippery roads. Studies have shown that improved silica tire traction can reduce stopping distances on wet and icy surfaces and improve overall winter driving performance as well.
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