[Image: Manoj Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images]

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 75 percent of carbon monoxide pollution in the United States comes from cars, while the Environmental Defense Fund estimates that one third of smog-producing air pollution in the US comes from vehicles on the road. And according to the World Health Organization, more than 80% of people in pollution-measured urban areas are exposed to air pollution levels that exceed WHO limits. Automobiles are problematic, yet we can’t exactly stop driving them if we want to maintain the modern society we live in today. Creative solutions are needed, therefore, to enable us to continue driving but ensure that we don’t do further harm to the environment and to our own health.

Alternative fuels and electric or hybrid cars are a good start, but some manufacturers are getting even more creative with their sustainable ideas. Last year, Michelin introduced a biodegradable smart tire, and now Goodyear is stepping in with its own fascinating concept of a tire that’s not just sustainably made, but can actually reduce the pollution that a car puts out.

[Image: Goodyear]

The tire, called Oxygene, has living moss growing within its sidewall. It features an open structure that allows air to circulate, as well as a smart tread design that lets the tire absorb and circulate moisture from the road, enabling photosynthesis to occur and oxygen to be released. In a city similar in size to metropolitan Paris, with about 2.5 million vehicles, this would mean generating nearly 3,000 tons of oxygen and absorbing more than 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

“With more than two-thirds of the world population expected to live in cities by 2050, the demands on transport networks in urban environments will increase substantially,” said Chris Delaney, President of Goodyear Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Smarter, greener infrastructure and transport will be crucial in addressing the most pressing challenges of urban mobility and development.”

Oxygene is made from recycled tires, which are ground into powder and 3D printed into the new tires. It features a lightweight, shock-absorbing structure designed to prevent punctures and extend the life of the tire. The open structure, in addition to allowing the moss to grow,  also adds to the safety of the tire, improving wet grip by absorbing water from the tread.

The tire also generates its own electricity, harvesting the energy generated by photosynthesis to power its embedded electronics, which include an artificial intelligence processing unit, onboard sensors, and a customizable light strip in the tire’s sidewall that changes colors, warning other drivers and pedestrians of impending lane changes or braking. That’s not all in terms of high tech features, though – Oxygene uses a visible light communications system, or LiFi, for high capacity mobile connectivity at the speed of light. LiFi allows the tire to connect to the Internet of Things, allowing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) data exchange.

“Like the concept designs Goodyear has presented at Geneva in the past, Oxygene is meant to challenge our thinking and help drive the debate around smart, safe and sustainable future mobility,” Delaney said. “By contributing in this way to cleaner air generation, the tire could help enhance quality of life and health for city-dwellers.”

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source: Goodyear]

 

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