Airless Tyres – Are you ready for Non-Pneumatic Tyre Technology?

Airless Tyre

The Airless tyre is also known as the “non-pneumatic tyre” and it refers to the alternative type that is being researched and introduced for passenger cars. It is meant to replace the pneumatic and tubeless tyres that are in use now.

The concept of the Airless tyre is not a new one. It is already in use for some military equipment, some type of bicycles, mining equipment, trailers, land mowers, and golf carts. It is pretty effective in these applications.

How do Airless tyres work?

The working of the airless tyre happens through the flexible spokes that are engineered out of different materials as well as the design that bend as much as it is essential to move the vehicle. Then it springs back to shape to maintain the tyre hub and the external tread.  This bending is good enough for the cushioning effect of the compressed air in the conventional tyre.

How are these tyres developed?

The non-pneumatic one from Michelin

It is named Michelin Tweel. The name by itself is quite demonstrative of the construction which means tyre + wheel= tweel.  The Tweel consists of thin rubber tread band and a small aluminum inner wheel. The tread is connected to the wheel by v-shaped polyurethane spokes.  This has been tested on Audi vehicles. It has registered an impressive handling, except for the excessive noise at high speeds. This is the issue that they are trying to fix, now.

The non-pneumatic one from Bridgestone

This is quite similar to the Tweel, in that, it has a rubber tread and an aluminum center wheel. The two are connected through a number of thermoplastic spokes.  The spokes, however, are not V-shaped as in the Tweel. It instead has a number of inner and outer spokes that run in opposite directions. This provides vertical support without getting twisted.  The issue with this product from Bridgestone, however, is the problem of getting rid of the debris that gets accumulated or trapped in the spokes. This is what is being addressed.

What are the advantages of an airless tyre?

Despite the many reasons that have been discussed above, there is intensive research going on to make no-pneumatic ones for passenger cars addressing all these issues as it could offer the following benefits.

  • Non- pneumatic tyres would result in low maintenance cost
  • You need not have to worry about punctures
  • All materials used in the manufacturing of non- pneumatic tyres is 100%recyclable.
  • It would provide low rolling resistance which would also mean low carbon emissions that is great for the environment.
  • It will not in any way disturb the fuel efficiency

.What are the benefits you can expect?

  • There will be no question of punctures.
  • You will be able to gain the additional advantage of a better side to side stability.
  • You do not have to carry a spare tyre.
  • No need for filling the air and maintaining the tyres.

Why have the airless tyres not been used for passenger vehicles?

As far as passenger vehicles are concerned the non- pneumatic or airless tyres cannot be resolved unless a few issues are sorted, the issues include

  1. Heat dissipation– The airless tyres available now are very poor in dissipating heat. Since they are being used for vehicles that do not require fast driving, it is fine. But, for a vehicle that has to be driven on a highway, this factor might pose a problem.
  2. Noise– The Airless tyre vehicles seem to score poorly on noise production since passenger cars are noted for the noise-free drive they deliver, the airless tyre might be a misfit.
  3. Rolling Resistance– Since rolling resistance influences the fuel efficiency, the non-pneumatic tyres which have higher rolling resistance will not be an ideal choice for passenger cars.
  4. Suspension–  The less suspension associated with the non- pneumatic ones, that leads to a bumpier ride is another great disadvantage for the use of non-pneumatic ones in the passenger cars.

Have airless tyres hit the market?

Though the technology has been unearthed, there are certain issues to be resolved before these tyres are to be used for regular and all-terrain passenger cars. Though there are airless designs in the market, it has been put to use only in smaller things like the bicycles. It would still take a while for airless ones to hit the market in a big way.

Well, the scenario at the moment suggests that you would not have to worry about maintaining air pressure or fear getting stuck on the road with a flat tyre which needs to be changed in a short time from now, considering the innovative breakthroughs in the present.

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