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Techniques & Tools Mass Spectrometry, Sample Preparation, Materials, Gas Chromatography

End of the Road

When cornering at break-neck speeds, every bit of friction counts – and tire-softening agents can enhance grip, improve handling and shave precious milliseconds off lap times. But they are also prohibited in competition.

Stopping the cheaters in their tracks, researchers from the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) have developed a method to identify the banned tire softeners. Over the course of a year, the researchers tested 71 real tire samples from competitors in the United States Auto Club – 10 contained banned substances (1).

“The results weren’t all that surprising to us,” says William Kretz, lead author of the study, “But I think a lot of the people these products are marketed to might be surprised to find out how easily the treatments they apply to their tires can be detected and even identified. The companies that sell these treatments give their patrons a false sense of security in order to convince them to buy more merchandise. In actuality, it isn’t difficult to detect these illicit treatments, if the tires are kept in a suitable environment and submitted for laboratory testing in a timely manner, the treatments show up clear as day.”

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About the Author

James Strachan

Over the course of my Biomedical Sciences degree it dawned on me that my goal of becoming a scientist didn’t quite mesh with my lack of affinity for lab work. Thinking on my decision to pursue biology rather than English at age 15 – despite an aptitude for the latter – I realized that science writing was a way to combine what I loved with what I was good at.

From there I set out to gather as much freelancing experience as I could, spending 2 years developing scientific content for International Innovation, before completing an MSc in Science Communication. After gaining invaluable experience in supporting the communications efforts of CERN and IN-PART, I joined Texere – where I am focused on producing consistently engaging, cutting-edge and innovative content for our specialist audiences around the world.

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