Sumitomo Develops a Concept Tire Sensor That Generates Electricity
【Summary】Japanese tire and rubber company Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) in collaboration with mechanical engineering Professor Hiroshi Tani of Japan's Kansai University, developed a new technology to generate electric power from the rotation of a tire.
Japanese tire and rubber company Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) in collaboration with mechanical engineering Professor Hiroshi Tani of Japan's Kansai University, developed a new technology to generate electric power from the rotation of a tire.
The process involves installing a power-generating device which Sumitomo calls an "Energy Harvester" inside a tire that converts the static electricity occurring within a tire into energy, the company said.
This new device takes advantage of a specific type of static electricity called "frictional charging" to generate electric power each time a tire's footprint deforms as a tire rotates. Sumitomo believes the technology holds great potential for practical applications, including being used to power automotive devices.
The in-tire Energy Harvester attaches to the inside of the tire. It's made up of two layers of rubber covered in an electrode with a negatively charged film that interfaces with a positively charged film. As the tire defaces during normal rotation, the positive and negatively charged films rub together to generate a small amount of electricity.
"We believe that this technology holds great potential for practical applications as a power source for various automotive digital tools," SRI said in a statement.
An illustration of SRI's energy harvester. As the tire rotates, the negative and positive films rub together to generate electricity.
The project is part of SRI's "smart tire concept," which aims to respond to the changes occurring throughout the automotive industry. The concept also addresses various parameters including safety, environmental performance and digitalization.
SRI expects the new technology can be used as a power source for sensors, such as in-tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).
Tire pressure monitoring systems have been mandated since Nov 2014 for all vehicles sold in the U.S. The electronic tire pressure sensors use batteries with a limited service life. The non-serviceable lithium ion batteries inside TPMS sensors typically last about 5 to 6 years.
Sumitomo's new concept system might one day be used to generate enough electricity to power these in-tire sensors or other vehicle systems that don't require much power.
The company said it would continue working on the research with support from the Japanese Science and Technology Agency.
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