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Radical airless tyre has half the rolling resistance and is cheaper to make

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April 29, 2005

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April 30, 2005 Michelin’s radical new Tweel announced in January this year looks set to be the next big thing in tyre technology but recent news from Amerityre on a very similar technology suggests there will be strong competition in the airless tyre market, as more than one manufacturer is close to market. Amerityre has successfully completed high-speed testing of its experimental non-pneumatic or “zero-pressure” polyurethane tyre in testing for FMVSS 129 compliance, the safety standard governing the testing of non-pneumatic car tyres. The advantages of the polyurethane tyre are many according to Amerityre including much cooler running temperatures (less wear), much lower rolling resistance (amounting to a reported 10% decrease in fuel consumption) and the ability to produce a complete tyre inside a few minutes significantly simplifying and reducing the cost of the manufacturing process.

The zero pressure spare tyre is under development by Amerityre in response to a growing concern among consumers and government agencies such as The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for post-crash fires caused by fuel leakage in high-impact rear collisions. A high-pressure pneumatic spare tyre’s close proximity, in most cases, to the fuel tank can be an explosion hazard for vehicles involved in high-impact rear collisions. A zeropressure spare tyre reduces the risk of causing an explosion.

In addition to collision safety, Amerityre’s objective is to offer equal or better performance to that of comparable rubber high-pressure spare tyres. Although the tyre is being developed for “temporary” use, Amerityre believes that a zero-pressure spare tyre can be safely operated at 50 mph for over 2,000 miles. Consumers won’t need to worry about air pressure in polyurethane elastomer spare tyres, unlike traditional high-pressure spare tyres, which lose pressure through permeation over time. Loss in air pressure greatly affects the performance of a high-pressure spare tyre. The zero pressure spare tyre, on the other hand, will give drivers an always ready solution in the event of a failed pneumatic tyre.

During testing the polyurethane elastomer compound tyre showed great results. The test tyre ran at 50 miles per hour with increasing loads for beyond the required 34 hours.

Comparison testing with a traditional run-flat radial has also shown the Amerityre prototype to have nearly half the rolling resistance, which Amerityre claims translates to more than a 10% increase in fuel economy for a car equipped with these tyres.

Amerityre uses a proprietary injection molding system to produce its passenger tyres which can produce a finished tyre including bead and belts in a few minutes.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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2 Comments

The all new airless tire from Michelin recently came out into the publics eye early this year, 2005. The first set of tyres was also tested by the rental review Although it appears to be a pretty good idea and concept, they probably will not be available to the general public soon. I have looked at the idea and think it is cool, although I don't know what to think of the center rim selection that you haven't got a choice with. I'm sure that the police will probably not like the idea because the spike strips will definitely be ineffective with a set of these on your ride. The ride and handling seem to be very effective.

E.C. Voica

One thing I\'ve noticed on all these airless tires is they all have perfectly even spacing on the spokes or honeycomb or whatever they use.

That\'s a big contributor to why they are noisy. If you look at the tread on most tires you\'ll see the blocks are different sizes. The reason is to prevent harmonic vibrations from causing noises at various speeds.

The goal is to have the tread designed to not have a harmonic vibration at any speed.

Having the airless tire structure all evenly spaced is ensuring they\'ll be noisy and vibrating, especially at higher speeds.

Gregg Eshelman
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