Cooper Tire recently developed concept tires that can improve fuel efficiency by 5.5%, supported by a project from the EERE Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO). In addition to exceeding VTO’s goal of improving fuel efficiency by 3%, the new tires are more than 23% (5 to 6 pounds) lighter than current tires. They also reduce rolling resistance by more than 30% while still meeting performance and durability goals.
These new technologies are so promising that Cooper is already planning to transfer some of them to new, commercialized tire designs. These technologies include substituting materials, developing ultra-long wearing and ultra-fuel efficient tread compounds, and creating a new low-rolling resistance tire profile.
To reduce weight, the Cooper team replaced the standard steel belt with alternate lightweight materials. Other efforts focused on reducing energy loss (heat dissipation) when a tire rolls on the road, known as hysteresis. Because different materials have different properties, the concept tires replaced commonly-used carbon black and silica fillers used in current tire compounds for reinforcement with innovative, highly reinforcing fillers such as nano-fibers that minimize energy losses.
Cooper has already integrated the new modeling processes they created under this project into their development cycle. It is also evaluating the ultra-long wearing and ultra-fuel efficient tread compounds for use in tire designs. Cooper is continuing research on lightweight and nano-fiber materials for possible future applications.
The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) supports research, development (R&D), and deployment of efficient and sustainable highway transportation technologies to improve vehicles’ fuel economy and minimize petroleum use. These technologies will increase Americans’ energy security, lower costs, and reduce environmental impacts.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.