Sumitomo Rubber Wants To Develop Electricity-Generating Tires

An Energy Harvester will seize static energy to feed some car systems.

Electric cars are all about energy efficiency. So it is more than natural that they have energy regeneration and try to have alternative and renewable other sources of juice. So much so that we now have solar electric vehicles – such as the Lightyear One – and suspensions that also produce electricity. Well, Sumitomo Rubber now wants its tires to do the same and created an “Energy Harvester” to collect their “frictional charging”.

The research from Sumitomo Rubber – better known for its Falken tires – is being conducted in partnership with the Kansai University, from Osaka, Japan, and the professor Hiroshi Tani.

Instead of collecting the static electricity that regular tires already produce, the idea is to create tires that generate it actively whenever they suffer any sort of tread deformation when moving.

According to the images provided both by Sumitomo Rubber and its Falken division, the Energy Harvester is a small box put inside the tire. It is composed of rubber, electrodes and two charged films, a positive and a negative one.

It is very likely that, when the tread deforms, it makes the basis of the Energy Harvester move and produce the “frictional charging”, which is then conducted to whatever this energy is going to power by two wires. Sumitomo suggests the TPMS, for example.

We have no idea about how many Energy Harvester can be placed in each tire. Nor about how they can affect tire balance. 

Perhaps the current box is only a stage before the company can integrate an Energy Harvester to the whole interior of the tire. Perhaps airless tires will make that even easier by integrating these films and electrodes into the structures that will keep the tread in touch with the ground.

What we know at this point is that tires can contribute more to a car than by simply making sure it does not lose grip. They can also give back a part of the energy the car spends with their rolling resistance.

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