Imagine a tire that doesn't need air, can be recharged and is biodegradable. Consider a world where blowouts and punctures are a thing of the past. This could all be a reality if Michelin’s latest tire concept goes ahead.
The unique design was revealed last month (June) at the 2017 Movin’ On conference in Montreal. Utilising an alveolar design, comparable to the air sacks in the human lung, the firm centre of the tire branches out to multiple larger cavities, making it airless and adding to its durability.
3D printed from recycled organic, biodegradable materials (such as straw, wood chips and even orange peels), Michelin envisages that the tire will be rechargeable. When the rubber tread wears down drivers can simply book in to have the printed layer of rubber topped up. Indeed, to make it even simpler, the tire will be equipped with on-board sensors to notify the driver when the treads need topping up.
Executive vice president of research and development at Michelin Group Terry Getty says the tire has three elements:
- It’s a wheel with no air— thanks to its honeycomb-like structure, which will help ensure the wheel lasts as long as the vehicle.
- Its tread can be replenished due to the wonder of 3D printing. This means no more worn tires and, because the technology uses organic materials, it’s biodegradable.
- It’s a connected concept. The tire communicates with the vehicle, which communicates with the driver via an app. Pretty darn smart, eh?
Not only is Michelin’s new tire prototype environmentally friendly, it’s a clever cookie that I’m sure many of us would like to get our hands on. However, we must remind ourselves that at this stage the tire is nothing more than an exciting concept.
Yet, given that Michelin has unveiled its vision for smart, sustainable mobility, we hope it will be bringing it to market soon (before its competitors do!).