1. Air Free Tires – Non-pneumatic air free tires
2. The evolution of non-pneumatic tires – from lawnmowers to cars
3. Tires without air – advantages and disadvantages
If we are people who drive a car on a daily basis or – what is more – when we are professional drivers, we know that the issue of good tires is sometimes a matter of life and death. And that’s literally. We are aware of the fact that an unexpected loss of air in one of our tires while driving at high speed is a serious threat. In addition, changing the wheel is not the most pleasant activity. Especially when we have to struggle with unscrewing firmly attached screws. Soon, these problems may be eliminated. All thanks to a French concern specializing in the production of tires.
Employees of the Michelin concern – because we are talking about it – have been carrying out activities for a long time, which in the end are to lead to the entry of air-free tires into the market. Non-pneumatic air free tires in the future may completely replace the existing air tires. We will all be able to use them. Tires without air is quite an innovative patent that has both advantages and disadvantages at the moment. We will consider them in the next part of the article.
Currently, airless tires are found in devices such as forklifts, golf carts and lawn mowers. So far, the employees and management of leading concerns have not undertaken the development of air free technology for wide application. Of course, we have in mind wheels for passenger cars. The French company Michelin is unique in this respect. Already in 2004, the concern’s engineers produced a non-pneumatic tire for cars intended for industrial use. They produced it in such a way that the structure was based on transversely arranged stable ribs made of polyurethane. Workers also supplemented this structure with a tread.
In this way, they ensured the unquestionable stability of the car, which would move based on such tires. Unfortunately, at this stage of the project, the engineers of the French concern decided that it was too uncertain to refer it to general use. It was not until 2014 that work on the project was resumed and the first non-pneumatic tire designed for passenger cars was produced by Michelin. Currently, we have an airless tire UPTIS (actually Unique Puncture-Proof Tire System, which loosely translates as Unique system of puncture-proof tires) from the aforementioned concern. For now, we are at the stage of testing it and it is possible that it will fully enter the market in 2024.
Pneumatic tires, on which we rely on every day, are able to guarantee us efficient maneuvering of the vehicle and traction in even uncertain weather conditions. In addition, we can feel safe on such wheels, due to the adaptation of pneumatic tires to neutralize any unevenness. This is possible due to the processing of torque from the engine directly onto the road surface. It is then also possible to center the weight of the vehicle, as well as deceleration and cushioning or braking during the journey. It would seem that such tires would not require improvement, right?
And yet, there is always the danger of a tire blowing up when you least expect it, and it’s easy to have a serious accident. The innovative construction of non-pneumatic tires eliminates all possible problems that could be associated with incorrect tire pressure. What we have in mind here is, above all, uneven use of the tread and other faults that would result in a shot. In addition, sharp objects encountered on our way would no longer be a problem. In this case, it would no longer be necessary to load our cars with a spare wheel, which is about 20 kg of ballast.
If we were to find any defects in the product in question, at the moment we can point out that for now the tread of the pneumatic and non-pneumatic tires is the same. However, its service life in airless tires is shorter. The dwindling capabilities of penetration and security will be felt more quickly. Besides, if we wanted to replace our traditional tires with unconventional ones, we would have to replace the whole wheels. Non-pneumatic tires are not compatible with existing rims. Skeptics also point to differences in cushioning with the ground and a greater number of alleged overloads and friction. But let’s leave these issues to be clarified. Let it come into practice.