From high levels of carbon emissions to absurd amounts of waste production, the auto industry is notorious for its disregard of environmental concerns. Lately, with more and more investors being concerned with climate change, the auto industry has stepped up their game. This can be seen though the invention of airless tires. Even though this concept has been around since 2005, it was only in early 2015 that they have been made available to the public consumer. Tire giant Michelin pioneered this concept, and Hankook announced in 2015 that their airless tires should “hit the market very, very soon.”
How do these airless tires function? And more importantly, how are they sustainable? Well, Bridgestone, another manufacturer developing this concept, claims that their tires feature a “unique spoke structure designed to support the weight of a vehicle, effectively eliminating the need to periodically refill the tires with air”. Even though airless tires are currently only used in certain lawnmowers and golf carts, the possibility of them being created for regular vehicles is slowly becoming a reality.
Today, the benefits of using the modified airless tires far outweigh the disadvantages. According to Bridgestone, in the same article linked above, “No part of a non-pneumatic tire ever needs to go in the garbage, which goes hand-in-hand with Bridgestone’s effort to create a “cradle-to-cradle” system in which all tires are first recycled and then factory-refashioned into new tires.” Essentially, this means that the tires are made with all recyclable material.
Due to the simpler structure of airless tires, there are fewer changes in shape. This in turn leads to reduced carbon emissions. In the case of regular tires, the energy loss felt comes from the changes shape of tires as they roll. Thus, the simpler structure and subsequent decreased shape changes allows for a reduced energy loss overall. Even in terms of production, Hankook claims that the production of airless tires is halved from the production of regular pneumatic tires. Thus the footprint left behind due to production is also minimized, supporting the eco-conscious aspect of these tires.
With the promise to reduce both waste production and carbon emissions, two detrimental effects that the auto-industry is infamous for; airless tires are step forward in the auto industry. With increased functionality and a much more positive impact on the environment, we believe these tires will be welcomed into the consumer market!