Wonderful Engineering

Japanese Tire Company Unveils New Method To Create Electricity From Tire Friction

The idea to capture the energy in and around the wheels of a car while it makes its way on the road is surely amazing and interesting. The idea was addressed by the titans in tire manufacturing such as Goodyear with its BH03 concept back in 2015. However, Japan’s Sumitomo Rubber is coming with a new possibility. This tire design would allow the company to leverage the friction down below for the production of electricity for the accessories of the vehicles that are on board.

The tire concept that harvests the energy of the friction by Sumitomo Rubber came to be because of a collaboration between the company and Japan’s Kansai University. Teams of researchers from both worked together to create a system that comprises of a regular car tire and a special energy harvesting device that gets planted inside it.

Two layers of rubber with each being covered in an electrode exist in the device along with a film that is negatively charged and interfaces with a film that is positively charged. As the tire starts to roll on the ground and its footprint gets deformed; it creates a kind of static electricity that is known as frictional charging.

The device by Sumitomo Rubber carries out the conversion of this into electricity, and this electricity could then be used for powering up particular accessories in the dashboard such as lights or the radio. Another research group from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was developing a similar technology back in 2015 – its aim was to harness tire friction for powering headlights on a toy Jeep.

As for the commercialization of this technology, there is no word. Sumitomo Rubber is hoping that it would be used initially for powering things such as tire pressure monitors. It enjoys the backing of the Japan Science and Technology Agency and will continue to develop the technology with the hopes that it could be enhanced enough to power other devices as well.