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Airless Bike Tires

December 6, 2012 by Georgia Konzel   

Britek has found a way to make a sustainable tire for biking that does not require any air. Their design would allow bikes to have a normal rubber tire, but instead of the need to pump air into it, the solid rubber would have the same compression values as a normal bike tire that is filled with air. This airless bike tire wouldn’t be able to be punctured, would never become flat, and wouldn’t need to be changed as frequently as normal bike tires. The idea for the airless bike tire came from researcher Brian Russell when trying to find a way to reduce oil consumption in cars while increasing efficiency. They’ve been calling it the “Energy Return Wheel”, because like a spring, it requires less energy to move. The science behind the ERW is very similar to spring energy, when the spring condenses and then stretches, it uses the elastic potential energy, and converts it into kinetic energy. The Elastic potential energy is also relevant when dealing with rubber. Since the kinetic energy rises, the bike will gain velocity just from the transfer of energy and will not need as much effort to power it.



The tire is made up of a layer of rubber which is stretched over many tiny rods. These rods are lined with carbon nanotubes, and the bike user can actually make adjustments to the rods to specifically fit the intended terrain.The rims of the bike are made out of carbon fiber, thus decreasing the weight of the bike. This idea originally stemmed from the need to make cars more efficient, but was translated over in to the tire market because of the potential to reduce common bike problems. Similar products have been designed before for military and business use, but this is the first tire to use the Energy Return technology, that has only been used on cars until now. The airless tires until now have been using a filler to replace where the air would be, usually a special type of foam, while now Britek is using carbon nanotubes and stretched rubber to make a good solution.

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