Goodyear's new GT3 tire, introduced at the Geneva auto show, is the first tire to use corn — that's right, hot off the cob — as a filler compound to partially replace traditionally used carbon and silica.

The corn-based filler is called BioTRED and was developed at Good-year's Luxembourg technical center over a five-year period. Those five years apparently weren't wasted, as Goodyear says BioTRED offers important environmental advantages.

First, it uses a renewable resource. Secondly, BioTRED reduces rolling resistance, meaning less fuel consumption, noise reduction and lower emissions.

Finally, less energy is needed for its production. The material used in the production of BioTRED is derived from corn feedstock using a process similar to the one used in the production of food.

The corn then is treated to obtain micro-droplets of starch. In the next step, these micro-droplets are treated, transforming them into a biopolymeric filler. The end product has physical properties that are substantially different from those of carbon and silica fillers. For example, the lower specific gravity of the BioTRED reduces tire weight and rolling inertia for improved fuel economy.

The first OEM use of the new GT3 tire with BioTRED will be in Europe on a high-mileage version of the Ford Motor Co. Fiesta. BioTRED-treated tires most likely will be offered in other markets thereafter.