Michelin Energy Efficient Non-Pneumatic Tire and Wheel (Tweel Assembly)
Accelerate the development of Tweel assemblies, a tire and wheel replacement technology, with a goal of improving fuel economy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and improving vehicle performance and passenger safety in passenger and heavy truck tire applications.
Sponsor: Michelin North America, Inc.(formerly Michelin Americas Research & Development C515 Michelin Rd.
Greenville, SC 29602
The Tweel™ is a non-pneumatic single unit that replaces the traditional tire and wheel assembly. It consists of a composite reinforced tread band, connected to a wheel via rectangular, flexible spokes. The resulting mechanical structure provides weight carrying ability, shock absorption, and ride comfort similar to pneumatic tires while adding suspension-like characteristics that greatly improve handling. A benefit is that it doesn't use air, thus eliminating the need to check or maintain tire air pressure. Non-pneumatic Tweel technology has the potential to substantially reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions compared to radial tires. Starting with low speed mobility applications and moving to the passenger and truck market, the technology can impact the entire transportation sector. Michelin Americas Research and Development will lead a research group that includes Clemson University (Clemson, S.C.), the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.) and Milliken & Co. (Spartanburg, S.C.) on five research thrusts to address important technical obstacles, including reducing rolling resistance using advanced polymer materials. One key objective is to develop materials that can withstand millions of cycles of shear forces as well as high-speed impacts. Michelin has a long history of being at the forefront of low rolling resistance tire technology, and will work closely with the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on safety issues. Tire sudden-air-loss events are estimated to cause many thousands of vehicle accidents per year, and Tweel technology is expected to largely eliminate this type of accident. ATP support is expected to accelerate this technology development by three to five years.