The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has unveiled a new concept tire at the Geneva Auto Show that would provide electrical energy for battery powered vehicles. While still very much in the early stages of development, it’s the first time a tire manufacturer has looked at ways to harness electrical energy from heat caused by friction between tire rubber and road surface.
The tires in concept form use a layer of piezoelectric material placed beneath the contact patches of the tire. Electricity is generated by way of heat and vibrations from the tire as it travels along the road. The proposal even states that electricity could be produced from sunlight, which we assume is by way of heat generated from light absorbed by the black rubber.
It’s an interesting and novel idea but we wonder if the fact that out of all the world’s tire manufacturers, it’s only now someone has come up with this concept. There’s a definite case of diminishing returns when it comes to recovering waste energy – the smaller the gain the less cost effective it is. In the case of tires, both the cost to implement such a system and the effects on rolling resistance would be critical factors in the success or otherwise of such tires.
While Goodyear doesn’t produce motorcycle tires, it does own the Dunlop brand who produce some of the best motorcycle tires available. Regardless, such a technology, should it become a reality will be many, many years away.