Tweel tyres were invented early 2005 by Michelin, in fact Michelin North America received a 2013 Edison Award for the development of Tweel tyres. Edison is a charitable organisation to encourage innovative designs.
The future of tweel tyres
Tweels replace wheels and tyres; tweel tyres literally have no hub mounts. In essence, tweel tyres are very similar to bicycle wheels but without a rubber tyre and compressed air. Tweel tyres have an advantage over rubber tyres as they will not blow out; they will not have slow punctures, or become flat. It is also believed that airless tweels will eventually offer better handling due to its elevated lateral strength.
In the past, airless tweel tyres have been permitted to be used on low speed applications such as agricultural vehicles, mobility chairs and many other smaller devices. The Segway Centaur is the first four-wheel ATV that now uses tweel tyres, but they are not as glamorous as the tweels in the picture. In view of the fact that tweels are much stronger than rubber tyres, the first major application could also be seen on military vehicles. The ingenious design will be able to uphold bombs and mine blasts even with missing or damaged spokes.
The future is bright for everyday motorists; it is possible that as technology advances we may see these innovative tweels fitted onto our cars in the near future. However, alot of work still needs to be carried out for our cars to be driving around in these ground-breaking tweels.
There are also other companies that have caught onto the airless tweel concept such as Bridgestone, NPT and many more. NPT is a non pneumatic tyre (rubber) company; their tyres are filled with compressed polymers, which is basically plastic. Apparently, NPT believes that the polymers will provide strength to the tweel tyres, but without being plagued with Michelins that can cause heat to build up.
Fitting tweels onto military vehicles prevents vulnerability when in combat. At present, rubber tyres cannot out last a land mine; the wheels will explode while the armoured vehicle is intact and protected. Tweel tyres will allow military vehicles to drive through bombs and land mines completely unscathed.
How do the airless tweel tyres work?
Tweel tyres are made very different to rubber tyres. The airless tweel is made up of an inner deformable wheel, flexible spokes, a sheer band and the tread on the outer side. When tweels are in motion, the adaptable spokes absorb the impact from the roads similar to the air in rubber tyres. The sheer band and the tread momentarily warp as the spokes begin bending. However, everything within the tweel springs back into its original shape quite quickly.
The spokes of the tweel tyres can be manufactured with varying tensions to create different types of handling. At the moment, tweels have major flaws when fitted on fast moving vehicles. Tweel tyres excessively shudder when cars speed over 50mph and as mentioned they can over heat.
Have you heard of tweel tyres? Publish your comments below.