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Airless Tires Increase Safety, Limit Waste

Airless tire

photo courtesy of Goodyear

Michelin’s new airless tires don’t puncture, so they should last longer, which means fewer tires will need to be produced, thus limiting waste. Their Unique Puncture Proof Tire System (UPTIS) is an important step on the road to sustainability. The company notes that millions of tires end up in landfills early because of puncture damage, along with all the tires that are old and worn out. Disposed tires can become fire hazards, releasing gases, heavy metals and oil into the environment. The U.S. alone produced more than 260 million scrapped tires in 2019. The new tires can also be made from recycled plastic waste, according to industry publication Interesting Engineering.

UPTIS, in development for more than a decade, combines an aluminum wheel with a special “tire” around it comprised of a plastic matrix laced with and reinforced by glass fibers. This outer tire is designed to be flexible, yet strong enough to support the car. Michelin Technical and Scientific Communications Director Cyrille Roget says, “It was an exceptional experience for us, and our greatest satisfaction came at the end of the demonstration when our passengers ... said they felt no difference compared with conventional tires.” Goodyear has announced that the Jacksonville, Florida, Transportation Authority will be piloting the company’s own version of an airless tire on its fleet of autonomous vehicles.

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