New technology tire inflation systems debut at IAA

HANOVER, Germany — A pair of groundbreaking new tire inflation technologies were unveiled at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show here last week.

Goodyear showcased a prototype of its new self-inflating technology, which the company says can maintain optimum tire pressures without the need for external tire inflation. The technology was developed at Goodyear’s Akron, Ohio Innovation Center, with help from a US$1.5 million grant from the US Department of Energy.

The system doesn’t require any external pumps, electronics or driver intervention. This is how it works: an internal regulator senses when tire pressure is low and then opens to allow airflow into the pumping tube. As the tire rolls, the defamation of the tire flattens the tube, pushing the air through the tire into the inlet valve. The air then flows into the cavity until optimum tire pressure is reached.

“We believe the Air Maintenance Technology application for commercial vehicle tires will not only enhance the performance of the tire, but will also provide cost savings to fleet owners and operators through the extension of tire tread life and increased fuel economy,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, chief technical officer with Goodyear. “The progress we continue to make with this technology is very encouraging. We look forward to further testing of this concept.”

“Goodyear’s Air Maintenance Technology has the potential to be a game-changer for the commercial trucking industry,” added Phillip Kane, vice-president, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. “By addressing issues that are critically important to trucking operations, Air Maintenance Technology can help keep their trucks up and running while optimizing their productivity.”

Goodyear claims that for every 10 psi a tire is underinflated, a 1% fuel economy penalty is incurred. That could translate to a loss of US$627 per year in fuel. Meanwhile, tread life decreases by 9-16% for every 10% of underinflation experienced by a commercial truck tire.

Officials said the system is being designed to work on retreaded tires as well. The company plans to test its new system through an extensive fleet trial in the US in 2013.

Also on display was a new truck/tractor tire pressure management system from Dana. The system is designed for steer and drive axles in line-haul applications and is being dubbed the “first internal axle system of its kind for powered commercial vehicles.”

The system conducts automatic pressure checks while the vehicle is in operation and then inflates tires to optimum pressures as needed, equalizing the pressure in all the tractor tires, officials explained during a demonstration to Truck News at the IAA show. The system doesn’t require external hoses or pumps, as do current central tire inflation offerings.

“Since Dana controls the steer axle and the drive axle technology, we’ve incorporated a way to put air into tires through the axle so you’re not using external hoses on the vehicle or pressurizing axles, which you can’t do on a drive axle,” Steve Slesinski, director, global product planning, commercial vehicle driveline technologies with Dana told Truck News at the show.

Initially, the system will only be available on trucks and tractors with Dana axles, but it may eventually be broadened to include trailer axles and proprietary axles from the various OEMs, Slesinski said.

The system is currently undergoing initial road testing on commercial vehicle tractors.

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.

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