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New silane coupling agents for truck tire applications.

The use of silica to reinforce elastomers is well known in the passenger car tire industry. The silica is chemically bonded to the rubber matrix using silane coupling agents. Sulfur-containing alkoxysilanes, such as 1-(trietboxy-silanyl)-3-[3-(triethoxy-silanyl)-propyltetrasulfanyl]-propane (5), often referred to as TESPT, and octanethioic acid S-[3-(triethoxy-silanyl)-propyl] ester (6), are used to covalently bond the rubber to the silica.

 

The silanes (5) and (6) contain functional groups that react well with the rubbers typically used in passenger tire tread compound, such as styrene-butadiene rubber and butadiene rubber. Because these rubbers are chemically bonded or linked to the silica, the silica-filled elastomer is better able to transfer stress and has less hysteresis than carbon black-filled elastomers. In carbon black-filled elastomers, the rubber is physi-adsorbed onto the surface of the filler. These characteristics of the silica-filled elastomers reduce the rolling resistance and improve the wet traction of passenger car tires.

 

Reducing rolling resistance and extending wear life of tread compound are also of strong interest for truck tires. The tread compounds used in fabricating truck tires are based upon natural rubber. When silica replaces carbon black in natural rubber-based formulations, a reduction of rolling resistance is observed.

 

However, these compounds have poor wear properties. Tread compounds containing silica filler and silanes (5) or (6) are unable to match the wear performance of tread compounds containing highly reinforcing carbon black fillers. The replacement of carbon black by silica in truck tread compounds has been stymied by ineffective coupling of the silica to natural rubber.

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