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Goodyear Concept Tyre Could Power Electric Cars

By raccars Published

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One of the biggest problems facing electric car manufacturers trying to encourage consumers to buy the vehicles is a lack of reliable charging infrastructure. Goodyear believes it could have solved this problem with a new concept tyre, unveiled last week at the Geneva Motor Show.

The first concept goes by the less than catchy term BH023 and uses piezoelectricity, which can charge a car as it moves, by converting heat into energy. The process is available to moving and stationary cars, as the thermo-electric substance can also transform heat from sunlight into electricity. A special 'ultra-black' finish means the tyre will absorb the maximum amount of heat.

Thermo-piezoelectric material captures the friction generated by a tyre rolling along the road, converts it to electricity and sends it to recharge the car's battery. Pizoelectricity is a charge which can be stored in certain materials made from ceramic and crystalline structures. Subjecting these materials to mechanical forces allows them to capture the voltage produced, while the material itself can also create a small voltage by being squeezed and manipulated.

British inventor, Trevor Baylis, used piezoelectric material in his shoes in a 2001 experiment to generate enough electricity to power a mobile phone, during a 100 mile walk over the Namib desert.

Thermo-piezoelectricity could then make use of tyres' rolling resistance to eliminate the anxiety potential buyers have about electric car range. Ultimately, this technology could not only replace electric car charging points, it could eventually render combustion engine powered cars obsolete.

Goodyear's second concept was called 'Triple Tube', thanks to a trio of internal tubes which sit at each outer edge and the middle of a tyre, just beneath the tread. The system uses an internal pump to transfer air between each of these tubes and a main air chamber. This allows tyres to be remotely adjusted according to road conditions between three settings: Eco or Safety, Wet Traction or Sporty modes. The Eco or Safety mode inflates each tube to the maximum for minimum rolling resistance. In the Sporty setting, the inner shoulder of the tyre is deflated a little to allow drivers to maintain grip. The Wet Traction mode ensures the centre tube has maximum inflation, which results in a raised centre tread, to help prevent aquaplaning.

Goodyear claims it has no production plans for either of these concepts but does predict the use of both technologies in vehicles of the future.

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