Keeping car tires at the proper pressure is a common green tip. But what if you never had to inflate your tires at all? The development may come sooner than you think.
Bridgestone Corp. debuted a prototype airless car tire at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show, which opened to the general public on Sunday. Officially called a “non-pneumatic” tire, the Tokyo-based company’s concept model uses thermoplastic spokes rather than air-filled rubber as load-bearing elements.
The Bridgestone tire is similar to a design introduced by Michelin seven years ago and more recently by Yokohama Rubber Co., reports Tire Business. Neither of the previous non-pneumatic designs met a great deal of success on the open market, but a deeper structure of plastic ribbing and a higher aspect ratio may make the Bridgestone design more marketable.
“Non-pneumatic tires have a lesser impact on the environment than today’s conventional tires, but previously such concept tires have been impractical for the mass market,” the company said. “Bridgestone has developed this technology with the aim of practical implementation.”
The tires, which are made from highly moldable thermoplastic resin, require far less maintenance than their conventional counterparts and the air-free design eliminates the risk of punctures and flat tires.
Bridgestone said it chose thermoplastic ribs because the material is more readily recyclable than possible alternatives. The thermoplastic interior, along with small amounts of rubber used in treading, can be infinitely recycled back into new tires, the company said.
The concept tire provides a smooth ride for golf buggies and small electric vehicles, and the company said it will continue to research the technology for use in the standard vehicle market.