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Sep 9, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Japan: Sumimoto develops a tyre capable of producing electricity

A Japanese university has joined forces with tyre manufacturer Sumimoto Rubber Industries to develop a system which uses the rotation of the wheels of a vehicle to produce energy. This "clean" electricity could power various on-board systems designed to improve the comfort and security of drivers, without the need for a battery.

Japanese tyre specialists Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) have been working with a researcher from the University of Kansai (Japan) to develop a system that is capable of producing electricity. This new technology is a way of turning the tyres fitted to vehicles into a non-polluting source of energy, French website 4Legend explains, and one that could prove to be very significant, with the electric vehicle sector currently enjoying incredible growth.


Channelling static electricity


The system uses the static electricity produced by the movements of the tyres, and in particular by the deformation of the materials which are used to make them. The imprint that the wheel leaves on the surface of the road changes during the rotation, and Professor Hiroshi Tani and the other experts behind the innovation have developed a device which can capture the energy created by this phenomenon, called charge by friction.

The system is what is known as an "energy harvester", and is placed in the core of the tyre. Because it produces green and by definition renewable energy, this Japanese technology could give rise to a whole new type of on-board devices within vehicles.


Green technology


In the long term, people travelling by car could be able to use on-board digital systems which are powered by energy that has no need of a battery. This would be of real benefit to the environment and also provide greater comfort and security to drivers.

Among the systems which could use this innovation are the sensors designed to monitor tyre pressure, which are also located inside the wheels and thus close to the energy harvesters.


Boom sector


This type of research and the innovations that it could bring about are encouraging a number of specialists to focus on projects which will remove the need for electric batteries, with the Japanese government also closely monitoring progress in this sector. Last October, the country’s agency for science and technology opted to categorise work on digital systems that do not require external sources of energy as "innovative research projects".


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