Where The Rubber Meets The Road: Generating Electricity Like Never Before

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Goodyear looking to get high-tech as they announced their innovative new concept for tires that generate electricity as they drive or even when the car is parked. This impressive technology is still some time off, but Goodyear is making impressive strides to bring the technology to electric cars in the future.

Like every other tire company, Goodyear is spending a lot of time and energy to develop better tires with lower rolling resistance. This will help increase fuel economy of conventional cars and when it comes to electric vehicles, this technology will help increase their effective range. Now as electric cars begin to gain popularity, Goodyear’s engineers wondered if they create new tires that generate electricity and charge these vehicles’ batteries.

Known as  BH -03, the concept will capture energy in two ways. First, Goodyear is looking into a process known as piezoelectricity, electric charges that build up in certain materials as they’re squeezed or pressed. This would be a perfect fit for tires because they are constantly being deformed as they spin. Some of the piezoelectric materials include quartz, some ceramics and some salts.

“Now how can we associate them with other materials so that we can get the properties of piezoelectric together with some elasticity, which will be always required with a tire?”   said Xavier Fraipont, director of consumer tire technology. – bit.ly/1HSuh8z

The second way they want to generate electricity with these incredible concept tires is through thermoelectricity. This process will convert variations in temperature into electric voltage. They can be sitting in the sun or spinning on the road, each process will generate heat and then convert this heat into electricity for the vehicle. Some thermoelectric materials Goodyear is looking to utilize include bismuth, telluride and tin selenide.

Even though these materials are well-known, the challenge Goodyear faces is incorporating these materials into the tires without sacrificing elasticity and durability. Their team of engineers are still looking for the right mix of these electricity producing materials to create the best tire possible while also including electricity generating properties.

Not only will this technology be a fantastic addition to electric vehicles, the implications outside of the automotive industry could be far-reaching. Rubber is used in a wide variety of industrial machinery and processes. If belts and other rubber components could be, in the future, outfitted with these electricity generating materials, it could be a complete game changer for manufacturers. If a machine can turn some of the heat they produce into electricity that can be fed back into the manufacturing facility, manufacturers have another tool at their disposal to increase the sustainability of their operation. There is no word yet when Goodyear thinks this technology will hit the market as they are still in the first stages of development. However, if this incredible technology reaches the automotive market, it will only be a matter of time before it makes its way over to other rubber components.

Sources:

http://www.wired.com/2015/03/goodyear-trying-make-electricity-generating-tire/

http://www.industrytap.com/goodyear-trying-make-tires-will-generate-electricity/35478