Continental Tires Partners with Solvay for Sustainable Silica Production

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Published on
January 20, 2023

Solvay, a worldwide leader in highly dispersible silica, is investing in its Livorno site in Italy to launch the company's first unit of circular highly dispersible silica (HDS) made with bio-based sodium silicate derived from rice husk ash. This new breakthrough silicate process provides a circular solution, as it gives a second life to rice husk in a local value chain. Coupled with renewable energy integration at the plant, Solvay aims to achieve a 50% reduction in CO2 per ton of silica, making the Livorno site Europe's best in class silica production site in terms of CO2 footprint. Production is expected to start by the end of 2024.

The Group plans to gradually replace its existing Zeosil portfolio with circular HDS, providing a circular solution for tires that will contribute to increasing the use of sustainable raw materials and reducing the tire industry's CO2 footprint. This new generation of precipitated silica will also address the needs of the home and personal care and the feed and food industries.

Solvay is the first company to commit to circular HDS production at a European site within a concrete timeframe, and is now focused on building the necessary ecosystem to bring it to market. This involves working with stakeholders across the entire value chain, and Continental is a key partner in this journey. Through the implementation of this competitive rice husk ash (RHA) proprietary process in Europe, the company is able to ensure consistent product quality by leveling out variability of agro feedstocks.

"Silica is essential for the high performance of our tires. And with Solvay's bio-circular silica, our tires will at the same time become more sustainable. It reduces the overall carbon footprint and increases the share of renewable materials in our tires." He added, "Rice husk is an agricultural by-product that was not used for tire production until very recently. Soon they will take us one step closer to our goal of 100 percent sustainable materials in our tires by 2050 at the latest."
Claus Petschick, Head of Sustainability at Continental Tires

Solvay also has plans to build a new plant in North America over the coming years to expand its HDS capacity, which will significantly increase the Group's footprint in the region. This new facility will be designed for circular raw materials and be aligned with the company's carbon neutrality roadmap. The Group is also investigating projects on circular HDS in Asia and South America.

"Building on our constant drive for progress and innovation, the launch of our circular HDS in Europe is just the first step in a longer-term project that will enable us to offer a circular solution to tire manufacturers and other industries across the world, as we continue to reinvent progress with our Silica offering."
Ilham Kadri, Solvay CEO

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