US (FL): Tyre industry needs citrus growers

Orange growers and processors in Florida could be about to get a boost from an unexpected direction - the tyre industry.

Hidden inside orange peel is a little known, but highyl prozed by-product - orange oil. Orange oil mya be just the product that is neeed to produce a more durable and longer lasting vehicle tyre.

"It sounds crazy, but it really works," Yokohama tire engineer Pat Keating said.

At Showcase of Citrus south of Clermont, the company launched a new line of tyres made with orange oil. Keating refused to say how many orange peels it took to produce one tyre, saying it was a "closely guarded secret."

Previously oil had been pressed out of the orange peels to make sweets, medicines and cleaners, now it looks as though tyres will be added to the list.

"I'll tell you what - it has completely surprised all of us growers," Showcase of Citrus owner John Arnold said.

Arnold said a greater demand for orange oil can trickle down to Central Florida growers. It can be a very hot commodity that hinges on supply and demand.

"There's only a couple of drops in each orange. So we obviously consider it a very valuable asset," Arnold said.

Keating said Yokohama has figured out a way to process the orange oil into a resin added to the rubber in its tires, giving them a better grip and a tread life of 75,000 miles. While the resin is currently made in Japan, the most important ingredient is Florida grown.

"There are no better oranges than Florida oranges. And it takes oranges to make orange oil," Keating said.

Yokohama first used orange oil for race car tires. They used them in Sebring International Raceway and won a lot of races.




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