Off-highway electric vehicles could soon generate their own electricity from inside their own tires, following developments by Sumitomo Rubber Industries.
In conjunction with Professor Hiroshi Tani of Kansai University, the tire arm of the company is working on the Energy Harvester, a tire able to generate electricity while fitted to the wheels of a moving vehicle.
Taking advantage of the build up of static electricity, known as frictional charging, the tire efficiently produces power as it rotates.
Inside the Energy Harvester are two layers of rubber each covered in an electrode, along with a negatively charged film that interfaces with a positively charged film. When fixed to the inside of a conventional tire carcass it generates electricity as the tire deforms during rotation.
Engineers believe the innovative product could lead to practical applications as a power source for sensors used in TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems) and other automotive and off-highway devices without the need for batteries.
It was created as part of Sumitomo’s R&D program to develop technologies that target improvements in safety and environmental performance. Now, the research has been selected by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (a national research and development agency) as a Type FS* Seed Project under A-STEP (Adaptable and Seamless Technology Transfer Program through Target-Driven R&D). Sumitomo Rubber Industries will now advance this research with support from the Japan Science and Technology Agency.