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Toyo Tires developpe le “noair”

18 septembre 2017

TOYO TIRE & RUBBER CO., LTD conduit depuis de nombreuses années de recherches autour du futur du pneumatique tout en ayant un œil sur l’évolution à venir en termes de mobilité. Aujourd’hui, Toyo Tires annonce une avancée significative avec le développement d’un pneu qui ne nécessite pas d’air pour son fonctionnement, naturellement baptisé ‘noair’.

Toyo Tires a entrepris une refonte complète des structures de pneus telles que nous les connaissons actuellement : c’est l’air contenu dans les pneus qui supporte le poids des véhicules. Depuis 2006, Toyo Tires mène des recherches sur le sujet et en mai 2012, un premier prototype a été présenté, notamment durant le salon dédié au pneumatique, le Reifen Messe de Francfort. Les changements fondamentaux dans la structure des pneus des prototypes précédents et la résolution de certaines contraintes ont entraîné des améliorations substantielles à de multiples niveaux, permettant désormais d’utiliser ces pneumatiques pour certaines applications. En  baptisant ce pneu "noair", Toyo Tires continuera de mener des recherches dans le but de pouvoir utiliser ce pneu pour une palette d’utilisation toujours plus large.

■Caractéristiqyes du 'noair'

Pour le côté interne du noyau, la structure de base du pneu comprend des rayons en résine à haute rigidité afin d'assurer une résistance suffisante à la charge. La performance de base des pneus, à savoir "entraînement, rotation, arrêt" est toujours réalisée en utilisant un matériau à base de caoutchouc. La partie entre les rayons et la bande de roulement est renforcée à base fibre de carbone (CFRP) qui permet de réduire les contraintes imposées aux rayons.

Previous prototypes supported the load through an “elliptical spoke configuration,” but the latest version has evolved into an “X-shaped spoke configuration” that alternately crosses the width of the noair tire from the outside to the inside and vice-versa. Durability has been improved by achieving a completely unique support configuration form.

Furthermore, the number of spokes has been doubled (100 pitch) compared to the previous model, distributing contact pressure, reducing the impact sounds from the spokes that are generated when they come into contact with the ground, and achieves an even more quieter ride.


■Evaluation of characteristic values

Durability vastly exceeds the equivalent legal and regulatory requirements for Toyo Tires commercial products* (pneumatic tires) and at least eight times better than previous prototypes. “Rolling resistance” – which expresses the amount of force that opposes the rotation of the tires – has been reduced by at least half compared to previous prototypes and is 25% better even when compared to Toyo Tires commercial products. On the other hand, superior environment and safety performance levels were also achieved, such as reducing “wet braking distance” – which measures braking performance on wet roads – by 4%. One of the factors underscoring this result was the adoption of fuel efficient tread rubber composed through “Nano Balance Technology,” a unique material design core technology used by Toyo Tires when commercialising fuel-efficient tires.
Road noise has been significantly improved compared to previous prototypes, with a level similar to that of
current pneumatic tires.

         *Toyo Tires commercial products Toyo Teo Plus: tire size 155/65R13, rim: 13×4.5-J, air pressure: 200/220 kPa
         *Airless tire: external diameter 540 mm; width 140 mm; rim equivalent to 14 inches
         *Evaluations were conducted in-house at a Toyo Tires tire proving ground (Tsuno-cho, Koyu-gun, Miyazaki prefecture).


■Performance on actual cars

According to the results of performance tests conducted by driving the tires on actual cars, where evaluations are made by a designated driver from the Tire Evaluation Development Department, although there are still some issues related to noise within the vehicle and ride quality, handling stability and noise outside the vehicle have been significantly improved, with progress made in narrowing the gap with Toyo Tires commercial products (pneumatic tires) for a majority of the indexes.


■Future prospects

Toyo Tires has made dramatic advances from previous prototypes in terms of tire-related possibilities through technological breakthroughs, such as material selection, unique structural design, enhancement and integration of various technologies, and optimisation of the overall balance.

Bearing in mind that this concept tire will soon reach a level where it can be fitted to actual vehicles and driven, in addition to giving this concept tire a name, Toyo Tires is considering shifting from the laboratory level to a market perspective, such as by creating colour variations for the spokes.

When considering a society where futuristic mobility, such as EVs and compact cars, will start forming a section of the market, it is currently expected that the need for maintenance-free tires will increase. Furthermore, as it is thought that transportation vehicles which do not run the risk of flat tires will be more effective from a safety perspective, airless tires that do not require filling up with air show great potential.

Although there are some outstanding issues to be resolved before they enter practical use, Toyo Tires will continue to acquire knowledge from multiple fields through the disclosure of current technological levels as well as further advance research and technological development to open up possibilities in the mobility society.
 

 

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