Is graphene the next generation tire material? Apparently Vittoria thinks so, as the well-known Italian tire brand dedicated a division within its newly opened facility in Thailand back in 2013 for the sole purpose of researching and developing the carbon fiber like material into a useable compound that could improve the weight, rolling resistance, grip and puncture resistance of its range of tires and wheelsets.
As of late however, Vittoria has entered into a new partnership with one the world’s biggest producers of graphene, Directa Plus SpA, with the goal of incorporating the company’s newly patented Graphene Plus (G+) elastomeric compound into its range of wheel products.
According to Directa Plus SpA, they recently received a patent from the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, allowing them to offer their graphene technology to companies like Vittoria as a solution for enhancing the performance of bicycle tires. Specifically, the patent covers Directa Plus’ “‘elastomeric composition comprising graphene and tire components”.
In a statement Directa Plus said, “the G+ use in tires produces the joint effect of simultaneously reducing rolling resistance and increasing grip. The result is a tire that is both faster and safer in turning under braking or in extreme weather conditions. In addition, the effectiveness of G+ reduces fuel consumption as well as increasing the lifespan of the tyre due to reduced wear. As a result the application of G+ offers economic efficiency as well as environmental sustainability.”
Directa Plus’ patent also points to its partnership with Vittoria, stating, “Vittoria has launched multiple award winning G+ bicycle tires for on road and off road use.” “Now, however, Directa Plus “Is also conducting ongoing tests with other automotive and potential industrial partners of its G+ elastomeric composition for tires.”
Giulio Cesareo, CEO of Directa Plus, added, “the push for fuel efficiency from consumers and environmental groups means there is a growing demand for eco-friendly tyres. Offering tires that are both sustainable and performance enhancing reflects the core values of Directa Plus, and is bringing real innovation to an established and expanding industry. The unique qualities of G+ have been validated in bicycle tires through our commercial partnership with Vittoria. The receipt of this latest patent means we are now well positioned to expand the rollout of G+ tires to the global automobile and motorcycle industries ”
Additionally, Vittoria says it’s already received an order for more than 550 pounds of G+ from Directs Plus to be used in their range of graphene-enhanced tires and wheels. To put that figure into perspective, G+ is a molecule based additive, therefore 550 plus pounds equals an extraordinary large amount of the base material, which reflects the Italian company’s annual production of more than seven million tires.
However, before Vittoria decided to incorporate G+ into its mass production plans, the material was rigorously tested in the pro peloton.
For instance, 2017 Giro d’Italia winner, Tom Dumoulin, rode on graphene enhanced tires during every stage of that year’s Italian Grand Tour.
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