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Smithers is pleased to present the Traction Summit 2023 agenda, taking place in May 2023 in San Antonio, Texas!

As an added conference benefit, Smithers is planning a tour of the Treadwell Research Park Track after the second day of the conference, on Wednesday, May 24, 4:30 PM - 9:30 PM. Participants will have a chance to see various track and surface types including wet and dry VDA’s, a high-speed oval, and off-road trails with the opportunity to join the tests by riding and driving.

Register now to attend the Proving Ground Tour.

Registration and Opening Remarks
Registration Open
Session I: Tire Industry Current and Future
Tire Sustainability: The Journey Continues
The path to a more sustainable product can take various directions depending on a number of key variables. In the tire industry, there have been progressive efforts over the past few decades to improve the overall environmental footprint. From recycling end-of-life tires to improving fuel efficiency through better rolling resistance to reducing the impact of tire wear particles, large strides have been made. However, the future of sustainability is still ripe with opportunities. Material developments, tire recycling, and manufacturing processes provide opportunities for continued improvement. Testing and validation has a critical role in reducing potentially negative unintended consequences. This presentation will kick off the 2023 conference by covering current sustainability trends in the industry and introduce some of the key topics that will be addressed during the Traction Summit.
Joshua Guilliams | Vice President, Consulting Materials Science and Engineering, Smithers
The Tire Industry In flux
This presentation will look at the trends and drivers impacting the North American tire market today from the tire dealers’ perspective. These include dealership consolidation, the shift to EVs, competitive changes, and the impact of new technologies/innovations. 
David E. Zielasko | Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Tire Industry Association
Tire Industry Project Presentation
  • Introduction to TIP
  • Latest Studies Update
  • TIP Evolution

Domenico La Camera | Research Director, Tire Industry Project
Networking Break
Progress, and status on the adoption and implementation of a statewide Replacement Tire Efficiency Program
The California Energy Commission (CEC) staff will present background, progress, and status on the adoption and implementation of a statewide Replacement Tire Efficiency Program pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 844 (Nation, Chapter 645, Statutes of 2003). AB 844 directs the CEC to adopt and implement a tire energy efficiency program of statewide applicability for replacement tires for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. The purpose of the Replacement Tire Efficiency Program, per AB 844, is to ensure that replacement tires sold in California are at least as energy efficient as the tires sold as original equipment on new vehicles. The Replacement Tire Efficiency Program, codified at Public Resources Code sections 25770-25773, amended the Warren-Alquist Act and directs the CEC to develop and maintain a database for tire efficiency information, develop an efficient tire rating system, require reporting of tire efficiency data from tire manufacturers, establish minimum standards for the fuel efficiency of replacement tires, develop an efficient tire consumer information program, and related activities. The proposed Replacement Tire Efficiency Program includes requirements that will impact both tire retailers (without limitation, physical, print, and online retailers) and manufacturers of tires sold in California. As a result, the CEC encourages participation from tire industry representatives, other interested parties, and the public.
Session II: Industry Insights – Roadmap to Sustainability
Michelin Presentation
Abstract coming soon!
Olivier Brauen is leading Michelin North America’s commitment to progress in the area of End-of-Life tires. He will be speaking on behalf of Michelin om ambitions and illustration with operational progress Michelin is pursuing.
Olivier Brauen | VP, Circularity Business Solutions, Michelin
Networking Lunch
Bridging the Gap to Tire Sustainability – A Fireside Chat
Moderator: Jessica Hogan | Vice President of Strategy & Communications Bolder Industries

Join the leaders in tire recycling and circularity, Thomas Womble of Liberty Tire and Tony Wibbeler of Bolder Industries, as they bring a joint perspective on the delicate balance between tire manufacturing, collection, and processing that needs to be achieved to more quickly advance sustainability in tires. This talk will note the gains that have been made, dispel the myths and misunderstandings that have slowed progress, and explore solutions that have the power to move the industry further and faster down the road to scalable, sustainable tires.
Tony Wibbeler | Chief Executive Officer, Bolder Industries
Thomas Womble | Chief Executive Officer, Liberty Tire Recycling
Session III: Future Mobility and Automotive Trends
Sustainability “Beyond Measure”
Supply chain sustainability is a defining challenge for current industry. Many sustainability programs are largely and wholly focused on supplier baselines and measurements to make an impact. GM took an approach going beyond measurement by building programs of education, community, and engagement leading to change. Join this session to hear how the GM team is working to overcome hurdles in relationship building in the global supply chain. Learnings can be applicable for any organization or individual looking to connect and grow with their stakeholders.
Jeremy Galanty | Sustainability Analyst, General Motors
Getting a Pulse on the Electric Vehicle Transformation
The rate of transformation in the automotive industry is accelerating. With EVs now representing the fastest growing sector of the industry and the ecosystem being reshaped by new players, change is inevitable. Join experts from J.D. Power as they discuss where the industry stands in this transformation, where the biggest challenges and opportunities exist, and ultimately, how vehicle electrification is affecting tire consumers.

Brent Gruber | Executive Director, Electric Vehicle Practice, J.D. Power
Ashley Edgar | Senior Director, Automotive Supplier Benchmarking and Alternative Mobility, J.D. Power
Networking Break
Net Zero, is it feasible?
The government body, domain experts, researchers & consumers are appreciating the current level of mobility development & net-zero emission mobility initiative. But mobility value chain expert, sustainability expert, informed consumers have conflicting thought in acceptance of this technology for sustainability at this moment. Since the available research are covered individual point for sustainability but cross boundary connect is missing. This is the gap in current available research. This is important point to address for sustainability. In this research attempt to address this point. So, to achieve Net zero emission benefit complete value chain in integration is important. So in this research going to address, 1. What is current level of activities in net zero? 2. What can be achieved with current level? 3. What are future proposed required actions?
Devendra Gandhi | Manager, Mahindra Group
Leveraging Advanced Data Science Methods to Solve Complex Tire Sustainability Challenges
The tradeoff between CO2 reduction from lack of tailpipe emissions from Electric Vehicles (EV), and the potential increase in environmental impact from tire wear from EVs compared to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles is a topic of considerable debate. Furthermore, the complexities of this problem, the dynamic nature of the automotive industry, and the concern for the environment make these topics both salient and complicated. A professor at Georgia State University, in collaboration with representatives from Orion Engineered Carbons, led six teams of graduate students with limited tire, automotive, or rubber subject matter expertise through a semester-long project to address these kinds of questions. The teams of students, all of which studying Data Science and Analytics, leveraged a snapshot of tire inventory data from multiple countries, combined with advanced modeling techniques, to determine the factors that tend to influence tire performance. The analytical techniques applied to this and other types of complex business problems will be discussed, along with ways for framing questions to solve with advanced data science methods, and the value of leveraging these types of skills.
Beverly Wright, PhD, CAP® | Director of Data Science Programs, Executive Education, University of Georgia
Session IV: Sustainability and Related Implications
Raising the Bar in Automotive Sustainability: A Conversation Between Rivian and Pirelli
A conversation about Rivian’s positioning at the cutting edge of sustainability and its approach to suppliers. Discussion of tire materials and circularity in the automotive industry, responsible sourcing, and collaborative approaches to solving tough environmental and social problems. How much is the auto industry as a whole moving towards sustainability? What are the challenges Rivian and others face in making the electric vehicle transition a reality? How does lifecycle analysis contribute to Rivian’s product design?

Maureen Kline | VP Public Affairs and Sustainability, Pirelli
Nick Santero | Lead for Design for Sustainability, Rivian
Networking Reception
Registration & Opening Remarks
Morning Refreshments
Opening Remarks
Session V: Material Innovation
Sustainability and Performance side-by-side: The Success of Liquid Farnesene Rubber
Liquid Farnesene Rubber (LFR) is a bio-based and renewable material that gathers performance and sustainability. Using the beta-farnesene monomer that comes from sugar cane, LFR can improve grip performance, rolling resistance and fuel efficiency in Tires. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) shows significantly reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission when compared with conventional liquid rubber, in some cases, up to 108% reduction is achieved. Kuraray will present the latest result of using LFR in SBR formulation for winter tires and GHG index of standard liquid rubbers and LFR.
Tatsuyuki Abe | Sales Engineer, Kuraray
Self-healing Material for the Sustainable Society
Long-term sustainable policy and development of self-healing material will be introduced. Sumitomo Rubber Industries announced the long-term sustainable policy to be working toward the establishment of sustainable society by 2050. Self-healing elastomer is a smart material, contributing to the sustainable society, by means of improving the durability of tires. ENR based self-healing elastomer has been investigated to apply for tire compounds. The physical properties, molecular structure and its characteristics will be introduced.
Lily Schreiber | Materials and Compounds Engineer, Sumitomo Rubber
David Johansen | Vice President -Technical, Sumitomo Rubber
Natural Rubber-Silica Nanocomposites for Improved TBR tread - Commercial Compound Development
The natural rubber - silica interface has been a long-standing problem in tread rubber compound technology. Conventional solid-phase internal mixing technologies that have served the tire industry so well for so long do not work well for this material combination. As a result, tread technology for heavy-duty applications that require natural rubber has not seen the same progress as that for light-duty applications using synthetic rubber. Often, low rolling resistance (LRR) truck and bus radial (TBR) tire tread compounds suffer from poor wear and tear resistance. Founded in 2019 with a National Science Foundation grant, Silpara Technologies has developed a novel material, based on a unique liquid-phase mixing process, for improving the bond between natural rubber and silica in tire tread compounds. Compounds based on Silpara's technology have been developed that show significant improvements to commercial LRR TBR compounds in independent laboratory testing. This presentation is a journey from the nano-scale to the tire-scale: The technology is introduced via remarkable nano-scale imaging; then latest LRR TBR compound test results will be presented, including results from ongoing truck fleet trials
Tom Rosenmayer, PhD | Founder and Chief Technical Officer, Silpara Technologies
Networking Break
Developments in synthetic rubber to address new mobility challenges of the tire industry
Global regulations, tire labeling, strict OE requirements, electrification and customer awareness drive developments for next generation tires which require new and improved raw materials.  In particular, the focus on improved rolling resistance (fuel economy) and tire wear (tire life) have become increasingly important as part of broader sustainability initiatives of the automotive and transportation industries. ARLANXEO is uniquely positioned as the largest synthetic rubber producer in the world to offer a broad portfolio of elastomers including polybutadiene (BR), and co-polymers of styrene and butadiene (SBR) which can be optimized for each customer’s requirements to support new tire developments. This presentation will highlight recent developments in butadiene (BR) and styrene-butadiene (SBR) rubber to improve tire performance. A brief overview of the ARLANXEO sustainability roadmap will also be presented.
Dr. Kevin Kulbaba | Technical Service + Development Manager, ARLANXEO Inc
Molecular Rebar: Carbon Nanotubes for More Sustainable Tires
Molecular Rebar® (MR) carbon nanotubes have been proven to toughen rubber compounds, creating longer-lasting tire tread compounds that will reduce tire wear particle pollution and increase tire wear particle size. MR replaces a portion of existing filler systems, like carbon black and silane-coupled silica, improving tire rolling resistance and tire lifetime on electric vehicles (EVs), which in turn improves vehicle energy efficiency by an estimated 7-12%. Additionally, when coupled with 6PPD, Molecular Rebar nanotubes reduce the dissolution rate of 6PPD and its derivative, 6PPD-quinone, into aqueous solutions, reducing the bio-availability of 6PPD-related compounds for aquatic life. This presentation will focus on the sustainability-focused benefits that Molecular Rebar provides for tire elastomer compounds- reducing particle pollution, extending tire lifetime, improving energy efficiency, and mitigating 6PPD-related environmental concerns.
August Krupp | Director of Rubber Development , Molecular Rebar Design
Networking Lunch
Session VI: Environmental Impact and Aftermarket Considerations
6PPD - The good, the bad, and the ugly.
6PPD is a critical stabilizer for tires which has been used for over 50 years.   The recent discovery of a byproduct formed on oxidation (6PPDQ) has been shown to kill Coho salmon at very low concentrations.  This paper will discuss the importance of 6PPD to the industry, the difficulty in finding a replacement and some of the work going on to understand how 6PPD transformation products may affect the environment. 
Howard Colvin | Consultant , Colvin Consultants
The Effect of Temperature on Tire Rolling Resistance and Relation to EV Development
Tire rolling resistance (RR) is closely related to overall vehicle fuel economy or range, and it’s common that vehicle manufacturers require tire rolling resistance reduction to help optimize fuel economy/cruising range. Tire rolling resistance measurement requirements for use in consumer tire labeling laws are being released in some countries and districts. Threshold values for tires are being established to achieve energy savings, meet green initiatives, and reduce carbon emissions. Current conventional rolling resistance testing methods only focus on tire performance at an ambient temperature of 24℃ or 25℃, but real-world applications span a much broader range of operation. This paper combines theoretical analysis and experimental methods to explore the rolling resistance of tires at other temperatures.
Matthew Kent | Technical Director, Tire and Wheel Test Lab, Smithers
Tire Derived Aggregate (TDA) is a New Sustainable Aggregate and is one part of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Stormwater Infiltration Galleries.
In 2021, over 274 million scrap tires were generated in the United States (USTMA, 2022). TDA has been proven as an ideal stormwater retention/detention aggregate for infiltration galleries. TDA has a 50% void space allowing for 13 ft3 of water to be stored in 1 yd3 of TDA. This is a helpful part of designing a cost-effective stormwater infiltration system. TDA has very high permeability and twice as much void space by volume when replacing gravel or stone in stormwater infiltration systems. With current research showing the water cleaning capabilities of this product, the stormwater systems designed with TDA serve two purposes: water storage and water treatment. Our nation’s stormwater runoff is an expensive water pollution challenge. As stormwater hits impervious surfaces, it transports phosphorus, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites, metals, and organic compounds from the land into our surface waters and then ground water. Hence, untreated stormwater runoff is a principal contributor to flooding and the contamination of our precious water resources. One goal of stormwater management BMPs is to control and improve the quality of runoff. TDA is also recognized for its sorptive capacity to remove dissolved and suspended water contaminants. TDA consists of 75% to 80% w/w of organic carbon material and 10 to 15% w/w ferric material - the steel bead Wires Exposed TDA (We TDA) material. TDA attracts long-chain non-polar organic chemicals, adsorbs heavy metals and organic compounds, degrades halogenated compounds, and precipitates nutrients. Furthermore, TDA provides surface area for regenerative and increased biofilm growth over twice as much as stone, which in turn biologically removes contaminants from runoff. Using TDA in stormwater management systems can treat runoff that pollutes receiving water bodies due to anthropogenic activities. Experiments were conducted to study inorganic phosphate removal using metal wires from TDA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Laboratory experiments showed that up to 97% of dissolved inorganic phosphate could be removed with We TDA material in a 3:1 ratio of ferric wire to inorganic phosphate in batch tests and 80% removal in a continuous system with 60-cm wire exposed TDA material. This material is currently being studied for capturing contaminants of emerging concerns, like microplastics. TDA has a high adsorbing capacity due to a big surface area for removing water contaminants found in stormwater. Several studies revealed that TDA can remove sediment, oil, and grease up to 98 and 99%, respectively (Mandal and Warith, 2008; García-Pérez et al. 2015). Moreover, TDA was reported to remove BTEX toxic chemicals that are cariogenic such as ethylbenzene and toluene up to 99% (Kim et al., 1997; Gunasekara et al. 2000). TDA was also proven to reduce nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) that lead to algal bloom and eutrophication of water bodies up to 90% (Wang et al., 2011; Zhou et al., 2016; García-Pérez et al., 2015). Alternatively, TDA was revealed to remove pathogens, viruses, and bacteria from leachate by decreasing the crucial Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) up to 90% and 96% respectively. Some studies have reported TDA's capability to remove heavy metals (Cr and Cd) from the water with ultrasound (up to 47 and 63%, respectively). TDA also absorbs organics from water since it contains polymers and black carbon, which enables the growth of biomass that, in turn, serves as a biofilter (Mandal and Warith, 2008). Keywords: Stormwater, Sustainability, Material Reuse, Biodiversity in Civil Engineering, Circular Economy
Monte Niemi | CEO, First State Tire Recycling and TDA Manufacturing
Carbon Black Production Using Tire Pyrolysis Oils as a Path To Sustainability
Millions of tires per year are added to the waste stream requiring management plans.  For most of the last 120 years, this has meant placing tires in waste heaps or burning them as fuel for various manufacturing processes (i.e cement production, etc).  The enormous environmental costs have led to a movement towards sustainability.  Pyrolysis of tires under inert gases has developed as a viable technology to recycle tires to minimize the environmental costs associated with their disposal. The various recovered materials have often been considered of lower quality than the original or virgin materials from which they were derived.  The pyrolysis process results in a variety of materials which usually require additional processing to yield a truly reusable material.  For example, the gas stream from pyrolyzed tires contains a mixture of several gases which must be separated for reuse in producing usable materials. The tire pyrolysis oil (TPO) also contains some residues and is mostly used as heating oil or fuel. In addition, the recovered carbon blacks (rCB) invariably contain significant amounts of ash consisting of silica and zinc species at relatively high percentages compared to “virgin” carbon blacks. While remediation techniques and processes are improving at a rapid rate, there are still deficits which limit suitable applications for rCB. An approach to address these deficits which Orion Engineered Carbons is leading involves the use of TPO as a feedstock to produce carbon blacks. Production conditions developed to utilize sustainably produced biogenic oils to produce carbon black for rubber and printing applications were pioneered by Orion Engineered Carbons starting in 2009. These production conditions are now being applied to the production of carbon black for tire applications. To date, we have produced, at full factory scale, multiple “tire” grades of carbon black utilizing blends of TPO with conventional carbon black feedstock oils. Laboratory testing in model tire compounds have shown no performance off sets as compared to carbon black produced using standard feedstock oils and meet all of our production and shipping specifications for the standard ASTM products. When carbon black from biogenic oils and TPO are included, the slate of sustainably produced grades is sufficient to build fully functioning tires which conform to the industry norms for performance.The grades produced using TPO will contribute to circularity in the tire industry and are an important part of Orion’s sustainability goal to gradually replace fossil-based feedstocks with sustainable feedstocks. All grades are available for lab scale sampling and several are available for full scale samples to allow production of demonstration tires to fully vet the materials.
Lin Bradley | Technical Market Manager – Rubber , Orion Engineered Carbons
Roundtable: What are the Focus Areas on Sustainability and the Trade Offs in Terms of Impact
End of Conference
Depart for Proving Ground
Proving Ground Tour & Reception
Proving Ground Tour
As an added conference benefit, Smithers is planning a tour of the Treadwell Research Park Track after the second day of the conference, on Wednesday, May 24, 4:30 PM - 8:30 PM. 
We will provide transportation to and from the proving ground and a fun setting for discussions with conference attendees, great food and drinks, as well as the opportunity to tour the various testing areas at the proving ground. Smithers staff will be on hand for the tours and to answer any questions attendees may have. Participants will have a chance to see various track and surface types including wet and dry VDA’s, a high-speed oval, and off-road trails.
The Smithers team members and proving ground staff will be on hand to answer any questions. Transportation will be provided from the conference venue.

*Tour participation is limited and for conference delegates only. Participation will be confirmed on first-come first-served basis after purchase of delegate pass and completion of the form below.

Event Details
Join us for a casual reception to network with the industry, enjoy good food and drinks, and learn more about the proving ground.
  • Complimentary heavy hors d’oeurves
  • Complimentary drinks
  • Facility tours with overview of track capabilities by facility staff
Dress code
  • Casual
  • Closed-toe shoes Required
Bus back to Hotel Departs
Transportation Provided
Arrival at Hotel