A team of engineers in Japan from Falken’s parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI), together with Professor Hiroshi Tani of Kansai University, have developed a technology that could see tyres generate electricity during driving. The key to the tyre design is an ‘energy harvester’ that takes advantage of the build-up of static electricity – known as frictional charging – to produce power efficiently as the tyre 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 tyre carcass, the harvester generates electricity as the tyre deforms during rotation.
The team of engineers believe that the energy harvester could lead to practical applications as a power source for sensors used in TPMS and other automotive devices, removing the need for batteries.
The research has been selected by the Japan Science and Technology Agency as a Type FS Seed Project (meaning joint academia and enterprise) under the Adaptable and Seamless Technology Transfer Program through target-driven R&D. SRI has stated that it will continue to advance the research with support from the Japan Science and Technology Agency.