Goodyear researchers have been working on the technology for the past year. The Air Maintenance Technology mechanism allows tires to maintain constant, optimum pressure without the use of external pumps, electronics and driver intervention.
An internal regulator senses when the tire inflation pressure has dropped below the pre-specified psi. The regulator then opens to allow air flow into the pumping tube. As the tire rolls, the deformation of the tire flattens the tube, pushing the air through the tire to the inlet valve. Then the air flows into the tire cavity.
Proper tire inflation can result in improved fuel economy, prolonged tread life and optimized tire performance.
Commercial trucks pose a different challenge for AMT than that of consumer vehicles as their tires are larger, have higherinflation pressures, drive longer distances and carry much heavier loads. This is a much more challenging performance requirement for the pump system. Plus, the commercial truck AMT system is being designed to perform after the tire is retreaded.
"The progress we continue to make with this technology is very encouraging," says Goodyear Chief Technical Officer Jean-Claude Kihn. "We look forward to further testing of this concept."
Prototype tires have been produced in Goodyear's Topeka manufacturing plant in Kansas, and rigorous validation testing has confirmed that the AMT pumping mechanism works. An extensive fleet trial is planned to gather real-world information from customers in 2013.
A $1.5 million grant from The United States Department of Energy's Office of Vehicle Technology is helping speed up research, development and demonstration of the AMT system for commercial vehicle tires. A grant from the Luxembourg government for research and development will continue to help fund Goodyear's efforts in researching and developing the AMT system for consumer tires.