By Bob Pelle:
The Tire Society, an organization dedicated to the increase and dissemination of tyre technology and knowledge, held its annual Conference in the historic tyre capital of Akron, Ohio, on September 11-12, 2018. The two-day programme was kicked off by a Keynote Address by Dr James Popio of Smithers Rapra/Smithers Pira, who took the audience for a futuristic look into the tyre industry with the focus on Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared (ACES) mobility.
One requirement of the tyre industry is to engineer tyres to last through challenging, even hostile, environments. They need to survive rugged potholes, sharp rocks, kerbs, and large variations in temperature. If everything is fine and well, they are ignored by the customers! But the harshest environment has to be Mars, and, yes, there is a tyre even for that.
At the Awards Banquet of the ConferenceDr Santo Padula II of NASA Glenn Research Center shared the story of the invention of ‘Shape Memory Alloy Tires.’ These airless tyres are an improvement on the earlier ‘Spring Tire’ developed nearly 20 years ago by NASA and Goodyear. In that the metal alloy does not permanently deform under large strain but rather ‘re-members’ its original shape under the action of heat, by a novel metallurgical process.
This invention was timely as the Mars Rover needs to carry much more load than the earlier Moon Rover, due to payload and gravity differences. Mars has a much rockier surface than the Moon, and requires a more robust design.
The Tire Society conference was indeed a hidden gem of tyre technology life, attended by many of the world’s leading tyre research engineers and scientists.
For 37 years, the attendees have been treated to presentations of groundbreaking original works by engineers and researchers. Some 20 papers on varied topics covering tyre technology were presented by the original authors, several of them will make their way into the authoritative Tire Science and Technology Journal, after a methodical review process.
Each presentation was followed by a vibrant question andanswer session with the knowledgeable audience. Sessions ranged from Tyre Performance, Emerging Technologies, Simulation, Tyre Vehicle Systems, Tyre and Road Interaction, and new this year, Data Analytics.
Additionally, the attendees had a chance to take measure of six university students as they presented their research to compete for the Conference Student Paper Award.
The second day of the conference was anchored by the technical Plenary Lecture by Gene Petersen of Consumer Reports, with a tour of the testing methodologies on many of the key performances of the products.
Highlights from the papers included: advances in vehicle dynamics, durability, rolling resistance and molecular dynamics, experimental approaches in handling, aerodynamics and wear, and data-driven methods to virtual compounding, tyre force and moment and image processing.
The audience was diverse and globally representative, with 58 percent of the attendance from 14 tyre companies across the US Europe and Asia, with the balance coming from 14 universities and 16 labs, consulting and software firms, and auto companies. Many of the attendees return year after year, confirming the value of this small but significant annual technology event.
Note: Bob Pelleis the Volunteer Promotions and Publicity Chair for the Tire Society, and a Senior R&D Associate at Goodyear. One can find out more about the all-volunteer Tire Society, including past Conferences, Membership and access to the critically acclaimed Journal of Tire Science &Technology at www.tiresociety.org. Tire Society can be contacted at: [email protected]