Precipitated silica in combination with bifunctional organosilanes almost fully replaces currently the commonly used carbon black fillers in modern passenger car tire tread compounds to improve tire properties such as wet traction (safety) and rolling resistance (fuel consumption). However, it is still challenging to reach a sufficient level of abrasion resistance (service life). An optimum macrodispersion quality of the silica is a fundamental precondition for an optimum abrasion resistance. This goal can be reached by the development of new tailor-made highly dispersible silica grades. In order to achieve this, it is essential to be aware of the analytical silica parameters, which affect the dispersion process. One of these parameters known from carbon black is the structure of the filler. To gain deeper insights into the in-rubber dispersibility of the silica, the structure was investigated by two different methods, the DOA measurement and the void volume measurement. The results were correlated to the in-rubber macrodispersion. In contrast to carbon black filled compounds, no sufficient correlation of the structure with the macrodispersion could be found for the silica-filled compounds. Therefore, it was concluded that the morphology of silica differs from that one that is claimed for carbon black. Additional investigations like TEM, FT-IR and X-ray diffraction measurements were carried out. Carbon black shows a more elastic structure, which can withstand the external forces during the mixing process in a better way. Silica contains a much higher void volume in the structure even after exposed to high forces. These new findings will help to understand the macrodispersion process in rubber in a better way.
- Tire tread compound