Hands-off optimum inflation the goal of US/European Goodyear research
Goodyear Tire & Rubber says it is developing a product that may make manual tyre inflation a thing of the past. The US-based manufacturer is working on what it calls ‘Air Maintenance Technology’, or AMT for short. What is potentially revolutionary about AMT is that Goodyear says the system now under development in its research and development centres will enable tyres to remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for any external pumps or electronics, thus eliminating excess fuel costs caused by incorrect tyre inflation. All AMT components, including the miniaturised pump, will be fully contained within the tyre.
“While the technology is complex, the idea behind the AMT system is relatively simple and powered by the tyre itself as it rolls down the road,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear senior vice president and chief technical officer. “A tyre that can maintain its own inflation is something drivers have wanted for many years. Goodyear has taken on this challenge and the progress we have made is very encouraging. This will become the kind of technological breakthrough that people will wonder how they ever lived without.”
No estimate as to when this technology will be available through tyre retailers has been given, however Goodyear says the timetable for AMT’s commercial launch “would be accelerated due to recent government research grants in United States and European Union.”
On August 10, the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technology announced awarding a US$1.5 million grant to research, development and demonstration of the AMT system for commercial truck tyres. The grant, one of 40 announced by department (in total the DOE is directing more than $175 million towards advanced vehicle research and development projects), will be administered by the National Energy Technology Laboratory and work will be conducted at Goodyear’s Innovation Center in Akron, Ohio. In July, Goodyear successfully applied for a grant from the Luxemburg government for research and development into an AMT system for consumer tyres. This work will be conducted at Goodyear’s Innovation Center in Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg.
“While similar in concept, there are significant differences in AMT systems for consumer and commercial tyres,” Kihn explained. “The tangible support from both the US and Luxembourg governments underscores the value of these projects and the many positive benefits they can provide drivers around the world.”
In addition, on August 11 the Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technology also announced it will award a $1.5 million grant for a joint project between PPG Industries and Goodyear to improve the rolling resistance and fuel efficiency of tyres. The project’s objective is to increase average fuel efficiency of passenger vehicle fleets through use of new tread and inner liner technologies.
“Advanced technologies that are invisible to the human eye – like those we are working on with PPG – will help to dramatically improve fuel efficiency of tyres while maintaining other important qualities such as traction and tread-life,” said Kihn.