Self-healing tyres tested
Engineers are working on a new kind of rubber that does not require vulcanisation and can even repair itself when torn.
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research in Dresden, Germany, have made tire-grade rubber without vulcanisation - the processing step that made inflatable rubber tires possible decades ago.
The new material repairs itself when punctured or torn, and the team behind it says it could withstand the long-term pressures of driving.
Their report appears in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
The researchers chemically-modified commercial rubber into a durable, elastic material which when cut could heal at room temperature. They say it could allow a burst tire to mend itself while parked.
After a few days’ rest, the rubber could withstand high-pressure stresses once more. Heating it to 100 degrees Celcius for the first 10 minutes accelerated the repair process.
The researchers say their product could be further strengthened by adding reinforcing agents such as silica or carbon black.
A demonstration of the exciting technology is available below.