Trucks at Work

Generating electric power from tires?

Here’s an interesting idea: converting the heat generated from rubber tires rolling down the road into electricity that can power an electric vehicle. That may sound far-fetched but Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. recently showed off a concept tire in Switzerland that can do just that.

At the 85th Geneva International Motor Show, Goodyear introduced its “BHO3” concept tire: a tire that generates electricity via materials that capture and transform the energy created by heat as it “flexes” when rolling down the road during normal driving conditions.

The materials used would optimize the tire's electricity generation capabilities as well as its rolling resistance, the company said.

“As demand for electric cars grows, this technology has the potential to significantly contribute to the solution of future mobility challenges,” noted Joe Zekoski, Goodyear's senior VP and chief technical officer, in a statement.

“This tire technology could eliminate the vehicle-range anxiety motorists may have with electric cars,” he added.

Goodyear also unveiled a second concept tire at the Geneva show – this one named the "Triple Tube."

Like the name implies, this prototype tire contains three tubes that adjust tire inflation pressure in response to changing road conditions, noted Zekoski (seen at right).

He pointed out that the tubes are located beneath the tread and near the inboard and outboard shoulders of the tire as well as in its center, with the tire relying on an internal pump to move air from the main air chamber into those three individual air chambers or tubes.

This helps tire automatically adjusts – on its own – to three different positions based on road conditions.

Right now, there are three different positions this "Triple Tube" concept can craft, each one designed to give the tire specific characteristics:

  • The Eco/Safety position: this is when all three tubes are at maximum inflation, offering reduced rolling resistance and thus the best fuel economy footprint.
  • The Sporty position: this is when inflation is reduced within the inboard shoulder tube, giving drivers dry handling through an optimized contact patch.
  • The Wet Traction position: When center tube alone is at maximum inflation, it provides high aquaplaning resistance through a raised tread in the center of the tire.

Although these tires are future concepts, Zekoski said they represent an ongoing effort to anticipate what he dubbed the “rapidly evolving needs of our customers.”

Let’s hope those customers include truckers, especially where those two new concept tires are concerned.

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