At the Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Germany, the tiremaker presented a true flat-free tire concept.
Unlike run-flat or self-repairing tires, Michelin’s concept features an interior material that quickly jumps in and fills any puncture that might affect the tire. The tire can withstand punctures from three different five-millimeter nails without losing any pressure, the company said.
According to Philippe Denimal, head of development for Michelin, the inner liner material is not made from butyl rubber, but from another polymer. He declined to say which polymer is being used, but confirmed that it is a soft compound that uses a filler with a plate-like geometry to reduce the air permeability.
According to Michelin, the largest challenge in developing the concept was eliminating the vibration that characterized similar types of tires before. The tiremaker claims the new product is vibration-free and brings no significant drawbacks in service. There is a small weight gain for a car tire, and a bit more for a truck tire, due to the thicker inner liner, but there is no penalty in terms of rolling resistance or lifetime, Denimal said.
Michelin plans to bring the new technology to market sometime in 2014, and said the puncture-resistant material will become standard on all its tires. The self-repairing attributes would be maintained for the entire lifespan of the product.
The tiremaker said the innovation has the potential to do away with the need to carry a spare or tire-changing hardware.