2016 Sustainability Report

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Partnerships

To advance sustainable technologies, we partner with customers, academic institutions and other public and private entities. Here are some highlights of our current work.

Development of fuel-efficient truck, bus tires moves forward in 2016

A multi-year, $1.25 million collaborative project with Bridgestone Americas to improve the fuel efficiency of truck and bus radial tires took a major step forward in 2016 when we produced enough experimental product based on our AGILON® performance silica platform for Bridgestone to begin manufacturing tires for testing. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has provided funding to support the project.

The goal is to build and demonstrate prototype tires that help trucks and buses achieve fuel-efficiency improvements of 4 to 6 percent while maintaining or improving overall tire durability, ability to retread and tread wear. We estimate that if 20 percent of all tractor-trailers on the road in the U.S. improved fuel efficiency by 4 percent, they would consume 750 million fewer gallons (2.8 million cubic meters) of diesel fuel annually. This would save almost $2 billion and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 8 million metric tons.

 

Material, engineering advances focus on vehicle lightweighting

With funding from the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office, we are partnering with Ford Motor Company and The Ohio State University (OSU) to reduce vehicle weight while maintaining quality, durability and affordability.

The goal of the three-year, $2.95 million project is to develop materials and engineering solutions that will enable Ford to implement lightweight doors, hoods, trunk lids and other parts that open and close on the vehicle. These parts will consist of a panel of aluminum on the outside and carbon fiber composite on the inside. If implemented broadly, this could save more than 90 pounds (approximately 40 kilograms) per vehicle compared to all-aluminum parts.

We will develop an electrocoat and adhesives that both address corrosion problems inherent in joining aluminum to carbon fiber and enable Ford to finish the parts in a standard paint shop. The automaker will design and model the parts, and OSU will characterize their corrosion behavior and develop accelerated corrosion tests.

Applying mathematics, physics and supercomputing to paint research

We have partnered with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to develop new modeling capabilities using computational fluid dynamics and high-performance computers. The initiative will increase understanding of how paint forms droplets using a typical automotive paint applicator. The completed model will help researchers develop paint that can be applied faster while maintaining a high-quality finish—increasing the speed and energy efficiency of paint lines.

Studies have shown that painting consumes 70 percent of the total energy used in an automobile assembly plant. Accurate modeling could enable high product throughput to deliver a savings of 7 trillion British thermal units in the U.S. automotive industry alone.

The partnership was awarded the project through the Department of Energy’s High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program, which contributed $300,000 to LBNL to fund its effort on the project. PPG is providing an additional $106,000 in technical support.

 

Project aimed at preventing gas pipeline leaks

With nearly $1.1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy, we have partnered with the Research Triangle Institute and the Gas Technology Institute to develop a system that remotely monitors natural gas pipeline conditions and detects factors that could lead to an unintended methane release. 

The system consists of an organic coating for interior pipeline applications, embedded radio-frequency sensors and in-line robotic monitoring equipment that couples with the sensors to measure any drop in coating performance and communicate that to pipeline operators. 

The project partners will develop a proof-of-concept pipe section to simulate a pipeline environment. Test panels featuring the sensor-enabled coating will be exposed to a corrosive environment and tested within this simulated environment. The partners also will demonstrate the system’s sensing, monitoring and communicating capabilities.

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