It has been tried and tested before within the military: using a airless tyre for the all terrain vehicles making it easier to manoeuvre the rocky terrain, but have Bridgestone developed the perfect airless tyre for the road?
The Tokyo Motorshow back in November saw Bridgestone unveil its second gen ‘Air free’ concept tyre. The spokes have been designed so that they stretch across the inner sides of the wheel to support the weight of the vehicle. The spokes are made up of a synthetic thermoplastic resin; this is a special resin that when heated can be moulded into various shapes but once cooled sets in the shape it has been moulded into. All the materials used including the rubber of the tyre is recyclable. Bridgestone are trying to make a process to recycle old worn tyres into the new tyres you see today to keep waste down to a minimum.
The technology Bridgestone outlines looks a little something like this:
Increased versatility due to improved load bearing and driving performance, the spoke structure uses a high strength and flexibility are due to the resin structure and method in which it was formed. The tyre is designed for lightweight vehicles with a maximum of 2 passengers with reaching speeds of around 37mph. The main issues with airless tyres is the constant change in shape over roads yet Bridgestone have announced that they have taken the 90% energy loss down by using certain material technologies and just making the tyre structure more simple. The new concept also has the same rolling resistance as their own branded fuel-efficient tyre.
Bridgestone hope to get the tyre on the roads sooner rather than later with technology still growing by the day. One major plus side for me is the recycling, managing to get the right balance between waste and re using tyres to new air less tyres should be a good thing for the environment even though burning tyres are harmful to the ozone layer.
Bridgestone has certain goals set in place to help with a greener future. The graphic below shows what goals they have and in what stages they plan to do this in.
Source: Wheelwright Blog