12:45 Wednesday 04 December 2013

It it time to reinvent the wheel?

Written byGARETH BUTTERFIELD

BOSSES at tyre firm Bridgestone have suggested the humble car wheel might never look the same again, after unveiling the second generation of the firm's 'air free concept’ tyre for the first time.

The revolutionary non-pneumatic design represents a striking change of image for the product.

It features improved load-bearing capabilities, environmental design and driving performance.

The latest improvements to the ‘Air Free Concept Tyre’ brings Bridgestone one step closer to a viable, commercially available air free tire.

Motorists using the new tyre would benefit from not having to worry about punctures ever again, while the days of having to periodically check pressures would also be a distant memory.

A unique structure of spokes – made of thermoplastic resin - stretch along the inner sides of the tyres and support the weight of the vehicle.

Along with the rubber in the tread portion, the materials used in the tires are recyclable, contributing to the efficient use of resources.

Further, by pursuing extremely low rolling resistance and contributing to reductions in CO2 emissions through use of proprietary technologies, Bridgestone believes it is possible to achieve even higher levels of environmental friendliness and safety.

Bridgestone is pursuing this technological development with the aim of achieving a "cradle to cradle" process that proactively maximizes the cyclical use of resources from worn tires into new tires and the use of recyclable resources.

Bridgestone is further optimizing the spoke structure by using high-strength but flexible high-performance resin as a material and employing finite element method (FEM) simulations in the design to reduce stress and deformation in the inner part of the tire.

By doing so, the second generation of “Air Free Concept tire” has increased versatility through improved load-bearing capabilities and driving performance compared with the first generation. High-speed travel at a maximum of 60km/h in ultralight vehicles has also become possible.

In the second generation of airless tires, Bridgestone has succeeded in making a significant reduction in energy loss by using proprietary materials technologies and simplifying the structure of the tires.

As a result, these “Air Free Concept tire” have achieved the same level of low rolling resistance as our pneumatic fuel-efficient tires, making possible a contribution to reductions in CO2 emissions.

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