The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., based in Akron, was involved in the Apollo 11 mission 50 years ago. The company developed several components, including the flotation device for when the capsule splashed down.
Derek Shuttleworth, Goodyear’s external science and technology manager, said silica can be used to help tires brake better in rain and snow, but he said the benefits don’t stop there.
“It actually reduces the amount of energy absorbed by the tire as it rolls. That means that the tire has better fuel economy, or the vehicle has better fuel economy with tires that are formulated with silica as the reinforcement,” he said.
Shuttleworth said the space station gives Goodyear the opportunity to experiment in micro-gravity, which can only be experienced in orbit.
He said working with NASA provides the company access to the space station’s lab and highly qualified scientists.