Agro processing company Usher Agro, in collaboration with the open innovation team of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, has developed an extraction process for producing 'green' precipitated silica from rice husk ash. The produced silica will be used by Goodyear to replace carbon black and traditional silica in high performance tyres.
In fact, Goodyear is reportedly in process of setting up a consumer tyre plant using silica derived from rice husk ash – an agri-waste – in China. For this, Goodyear on June 9, 2015 reached a supply agreement with Yihai Food and Oil Industry in China for silica derived from rice husk ash.
Compared to carbon black and traditional silica, green silica reduces rolling resistance. Lower rolling resistance, in turn, results in savings to the end-user as it improves a vehicle's fuel economy.
As a next step, Usher Eco will set up world’s first commercial scale silica extraction plant for producing ‘green’ high quality precipitated silica from rice husk ash. This ash is generated by burning rice husk (outer cover of the paddy) in the boiler of a rice husk fired biomass power plant, in a closed system.
For financing the green silica plant, Usher Eco, the subsidiary of Usher Agro, has signed a transaction with FMO, the Dutch development bank, and DEG, the German development finance institution, for $ 28 million senior secured loan (shared equally between DEG and FMO). Besides, FMO has subscribed to non-convertible debentures of the Indian rupee equivalent of $ 7.5 million issued by Usher Agro Ltd.
In addition to silica plant, Usher Eco will use the financing to expand its rice husk based waste-to-energy facility from 16 MW to 34 MW.
This landmark transaction is a first and innovative step to towards large scale access to 'green' silica and contributes to co-generation in the energy-deprived state of Uttar Pradesh, said FMO in a press release.
Hubertus Pleister, director corporates Asia at DEG, said, "We are happy to support the vision of Usher Eco on expanding on their 'green' approach of using rice husks as a green energy supplier by also extracting silica from the ashes after which the ash can be used as fertiliser."