CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The biggest of Big Oil's titans said last year that nearly 25% of U.S. vehicle tires are "substantially underinflated," creating a huge waste of fuel. Proper tire inflation could save a tank of gas a year per vehicle. ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) is the world's largest publicly traded oil and gas company. Seeing a business opportunity, the company disclosed it was developing a new material for tires -- a specialty elastomer -- that will prevent air leakage and conserve gasoline. ExxonMobil was bullish, saying it planned "to commercialize a new product that may revolutionize the tire industry." ExxonMobil published details about its project in The Lamp, its corporate newsletter, long before Barack Obama suggested that Americans should check their tires to conserve fuel, and long before Republicans mocked his suggestion. Mike Brownlow, butyl sales and marketing manager for ExxonMobil Chemical, was quoted in the article:
"According to the Department of Energy, underinflated tires waste about 1.2 billion gallons of fuel a year in the United States alone. Consumers can help reduce fuel usage by checking that they have the proper tire pressure more frequently -- and a minimum of once a month is recommended. However, no matter how often you check your tires, a tire that holds air better will have less underinflaton on average, thereby using less fuel."
A link to the complete text of the ExxonMobil corporate news feature about proper tire inflation is available here. And there is this in another article from ExxonMobil called Reiventing Your Wheels (pdf): "Every gallon of gasoline includes about 5.5 pounds of carbon, which combines with oxygen when the fuel is burned to crreate 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas . . .ExxonMobil is introducing a new tire lining technology that uses up to 80 percnet less material in the manufacturing process, making tires lighter and keeping them properly inflated longer. A car with underinflated tires burns up to an extra tank of gasoline every year. Across the economy, that adds up."
From the corporate news feature, The Daily Bellwether is reprinting a handful of paragraphs:
"A blend of synthetic rubber and nylon, the product allows for lighter and more durable tires that roll easier and maintain proper air pressure far longer than conventional tires. These characteristics translate to vehicles that use less fuel and, thus, create fewer emissions.
"'According to the Department of Energy, underinflated tires waste about 1.2 billion gallons of fuel a year in the United States alone,' says Mike Brownlow, butyl sales and marketing manager for ExxonMobil Chemical. 'Consumers can help reduce fuel usage by checking that they have the proper tire pressure more frequently — and a minimum of once a month is recommended. However, no matter how often you check your tires, a tire that holds air better will have less underinflation on average, thereby using less fuel.'
"The new product features the company’s Exxpro specialty elastomers (an elastomer is a rubber, typically used to impart elasticity to a product), which are isobutylene-based materials similar to butyl rubber, used in hundreds of products from footballs to conveyor belts. Butyl rubber and its younger cousin, halobutyl rubber, prevent air leakage much better than natural rubber or other traditional synthetic elastomers, which is why they have been used in inner tubes and tires for more than a half-century. ExxonMobil researchers invented butyl rubber in the 1930s, and the company has long been a technology leader in the butyl industry. ExxonMobil Chemical makes several types of butyl rubber, supplied to tire manufacturers and other customers worldwide."