Database Launched to Track Most Polluting Vehicle Tires

Pressure is mounting to clean up the non-exhaust emissions of modern vehicles that account for about 60% of the average passenger vehicle’s total operating emissions.

Now international vehicle emissions testing company, Emissions Analytics, has launched a tire database created from more than two years of its testing and evaluation. It points out that non-exhaust emissions are of growing environmental concern with tire emissions under significant scrutiny. The EU-Commissioned research paper Plastics in the Marine Environment found that tires were the leading single cause of marine microplastics, amounting to 270 million tons shed every year into the oceans.

So, Emissions Analytics has launched it EQUA Tire, an organic compound profiling and benchmarking database, containing test results and raw data from independently-sourced samples from more than 40 manufacturers and hundreds of different models of tire. Tires are a complex mix of components and compounds. To be able to separate and identify all the organic compounds, the organization uses two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry to yield a unique and detailed chemical fingerprint for each tire. The test method is designed to simulate the leaching of organic compounds over time from tires and their wear products. EQUA Tire joins the broader stable of EQUA databases, comprising EQUA Tailpipe and EQUA Cabin for over 2,500 vehicles.

Research results show that certain product formulations lead to environmental impacts three times higher than alternative formulations. As a consequence, tires not only vary significantly in wear rates, but also in chemical composition and environmental effects. The aim of EQUA Tire is to bring transparency to an area that has historically been under-researched and which is now in the spotlight as a result of ever-heavier vehicles and rapidly cleaning tailpipes.

This launch comes at a time when the European Union considers the potential new Euro 7 vehicle emissions regulation and whether to incorporate limits for non-exhaust emissions. The purpose of the database is to furnish tire manufacturers and other suppliers, regulatory bodies and non-governmental interested parties with access to a comprehensive, independent assessment of tire composition. It is hoped it will point to the best ways to drive reductions in environmental and health impact through incentives to develop improved products.  It further offers the opportunity to understand the sources of microplastics being observed in air, water and soil samples.

Access to this unique database will be available on corporate subscription along with confidential laboratory testing services to partners globally. On the launch of the database, Emissions Analytics’ founder and chief executive officer, Nick Molden, said: “Tires are rapidly eclipsing the tailpipe as a major source of emissions from vehicles but the nature of tire wear is poorly understood.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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