Goodyear hopes to end range anxiety

Goodyear has unveiled its plans for what could become the most significant advancement in car technology since we have had cars; the new ...

Goodyear has unveiled its plans for what could become the most significant advancement in car technology since we have had cars; the new BH03 tyre which is designed to use thermo-piezoelectric materials will convert the friction from tyres into actual energy that powers the vehicle - a sort of perpetual motion device.

Electric cars are not new. One of the first examples was designed and built by Ferdinand Porsche and displayed at the Paris Motor Show back in 1900 (read: The first hybrid). In recent years, we have had electric vehicles from the likes of Ford, Nissan, BMW and Tesla, but despite the interest from the majors, electric vehicles have still failed to capture significant market share. The lack of charging stations and the time that is needed to recharge are often cited as reasons why the general public don’t want to involve themselves with the supposedly green technology; and the likes of Tesla and BMW are having to build the infrastructure in the USA to ensure that drivers of their electric offerings are not left regretting their decision to buy into the future when their batteries run out of juice in the middle of nowhere.

It is thought that range anxiety is the key factor stopping most from buying an electric vehicle, though. To date, most electric vehicles have relatively short ranges before you have to stop and recharge for a number of hours. Goodyear is hoping that its new development will put an end to that by allowing for the recharging of the battery as you drive along. When parked, the ultra black tyre absorbs sunlight and the resulting heat is transformed into electricity. When driving, the friction between the road and tyre squeezes the piezoelectric materials, generating a small electric charge.

“This tyre generates electricity through the action of materials in the tyre that capture and transform the energy created by heat when it flexes as it rolls during normal driving conditions,” Goodyear explained. “The materials used would optimise the tyre's electricity generation capabilities as well as its rolling resistance. As demand for electric cars grows, this technology has the potential to significantly contribute to the solution of future mobility challenges. This visionary tyre technology could eliminate the vehicle-range anxiety motorists may have with electric cars.”

At present, there are no immediate plans to launch the tyres but a spokesperson for the company predicts future cars will use the technology. We’re sure that the likes of Tesla’s Elon Musk will be very interested in this development.

What is Piezoelectricity?

Piezoelectricity is the charge that builds up in materials, such as those made of crystalline and ceramic structures. Exposing them to mechanical force causes a separation of electrical charge, which sets up a voltage that can be used to charge products. When a piezoelectric material is squeezed rapidly, it produces a small electrical voltage for a moment. If a voltage is put across the material it makes, a tiny change in shape. 

In 2001, Trevor Baylis, the British inventor best known for his wind-up radios, famously walked 100 miles across the Namib desert in his ’Electric Shoes’, which charged a small battery that allowed him to use his mobile phone.

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