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18.5.10


The TWEEL - radical new wheel technology (UPDATED)

Future of Tweel Technology

For Michelin, Tweel is a long-term vision that represents the next step in a long path of industry-changing innovations. Fifty years ago, Michelin invented the radial tyre and there is no question that radial tyre technology will continue as the standard for a long time to come. Michelin continues to advance the performance of the radial tyre in areas such as rolling resistance, wear life and grip.

In the short-term, the lessons learned from Tweel research are being applied to improve those conventional tyre performances. In the future, Tweel may reinvent the way that vehicles move. Checking tyre pressure, fixing flats, highway blow-outs and balancing between traction and comfort could all fade into memory.

Tweel innovation is its deceptively simple looking hub and spoke design that replaces the need for air pressure while delivering performance previously only available from pneumatic tires.

The flexible spokes are fused with a flexible wheel that deforms to absorb shock and rebound with ease. Without the air needed by conventional tires, Tweel still delivers pneumatic-like performance in weight-carrying capacity, ride comfort, and the ability to "envelope" road hazards.

Michelin has also found that it can tune Tweel performances independently of each other, which is a significant change from conventional tires. This means that vertical stiffness (which primarily affects ride comfort) and lateral stiffness (which affects handling and cornering) can both be optimised, pushing the performance envelope in these applications and enabling new performances not possible for current inflated tires.

 - Charles Goodyear invents vulcanised rubber

1845 - Robert William Thomson patents vulcanised rubber pneumatic tyre but was too costly and doesn't catch on

1888 - John Dunlop invents pneumatic tyres for bicycles.

1889 - A Belfast Cycle Race was won on pneumatic rubber tyres beginning public awareness. Unfortunately the original tyre was glued to the wheel, making it difficult to access the inner tube

1890 - CK Welsh patents the design of a wheel rim and outer cover with inextensible lip.

1895 - Andre Michelin uses pneumatic tyres on an automobile (unsuccessfully).

1903 - Paul Weeks Litchfield patents tubeless tyre. He rose to become the chairman of Goodyear in the year 1940.

The Tweel prototype, demonstrated on the Audi A4, is within five percent of the rolling resistance and mass levels of current pneumatic tires. That translates to within one percent of the fuel economy of the OE fitment.

Additionally, Michelin has increased the lateral stiffness by a factor of five, making the prototype unusually responsive in its handling.


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