What is silica?
It is a common sight to see in the press releases where manufacturers reveal the tyre compounds and state something like "New Silica rich compound". Many of you might have wondered what it might be and why it is used while manufacturing a tyre. Here is everything that you need to know about the Silica compound used in tyres.
Silica is also known as Silicon Dioxide which is basically a molecular formation when two oxygen atoms are joined to a single silicon atom. The Chemical symbol used for Silicon Dioxide is SiO2. It is a component of sand so it is available in large quantities.
Why Silica is used in tyres?
Tyre manufacturers primarily use Silicon Dioxide to provide the performance in wet weather conditions. It is used to provide the flexibility through build up of low heat and this component has been around longer than what you might have thought.
Also See:Why Are Tyres Black?
The only problem that Silica creates is that it wears rather quickly, so manufacturers try their best to balance it out by mixing it with an another compound named carbon black. This results in better wear rates and provides good wet weather performance that is resistance to aquaplaning or hydroplaning.
Here is an interesting fact. Manufactures that state that the tyres perform extremely well in wet weather conditions such as the Dunlop RoadSmart III uses more Silica Compound than carbon black. However, high performance track tyres such as the Dunlop D212 GP Pro uses more of Carbon black and interestingly oil as they need to perform well in a different scenario all together which demand different elements to be used while manufacturing.
Silica started to appear in tyres of motorcycles in the 1990s. It was considered as an important factor in reducing wet lap times. In Motorcycle racing, riders began to see reduction in lap time significantly.
This technology that involved using Silica began to eventually appear in the road bikes and as the power and performance of road machines increased, the prominence of using Silica became more.