MotoE is the premier electric motorcycle racing series. Data and advancements from the world-class race teams help Energica develop products for the roadways, and sustainability is a major goal for the budding electric racing circuit. As the MotoE tire supplier, Michelin shares the same goals.
The French tire manufacturer isn’t a stranger to green initiatives. It recently committed to producing 100-percent sustainable rubber by 2050 and championed a method for recycling plastic bottles for use in tires. Now, Michelin is applying is special alchemy to repurpose used race slicks in MotoE.
Each race weekend, MotoE teams receive a 16-tire allowance. That tire allocation consists of four fronts and five rears along with three wet front tires and four wet rears. Most slicks don’t last more than one session, as racers prioritize grip over sustainability. That leaves a lot of rubber unused, and Michelin is pioneering a way to recover and reuse those lost resources.
Partnering with Swedish recycling company Enviro, Michelin will implement the brand’s patented pyrolysis method to extract key components from partially used tires. Once broken down, the recovered carbon black material can be reused for high-quality race tires. The leftover steel can also be repurposed at Enviro and Michelin’s smelting facility.
Michelin hopes that the new process will increase the company’s already impressive sustainability figures. MotoE currently features rear tires composed of 40 percent sustainable materials and front tires don’t trail too far behind with 33 percent sustainable materials. To meet those goals, Michelin utilizes ingredients like orange and lemon peel, pine resin, sunflower oil, hevea sap, worn truck and car tires, and scrap steel in lieu of petroleum-based additives.
Over the course of the seven-race 2021 MotoE season, Michelin estimates that 4.6 tons of sustainable materials will go into its tires. That’s a lot of lemon peels and sap, but it’s much better than the alternatives. Of course, if Michelin can apply Enviro’s pyrolysis process more broadly, it can also reduce the amount of crude oil used to produce new carbon black.
Similar to Energica’s developments, hopefully, Michelin can apply its race-born technology to consumer goods in the near future as well.