Self-Healing Rubber Could Solve Flat Tire Disasters

Michelin may be developing an airless tire, but in the meantime, flats are a real issue. Changing a tire, especially in areas such as highways, can be a pain. Harvard scientists have created a type of self-healing rubber that could change the way we deal with minor road accidents.

In order to make a rubber self-healable, the team needed to make the bonds connecting the polymers reversible, so that the bonds could break and reform.

Typical rubber cracks under pressure. Cracks in hybrid rubber are connected by fibrous strand, snapping back when stress is released.

“Imagine that we could use this material as one of the components to make a rubber tire,” [creator] Wu said. “If you have a cut through the tire, this tire wouldn’t have to be replaced right away. Instead, it would self-heal while driving enough to give you leeway to avoid dramatic damage.”

Of course, with every new technology, there is always more to explore. We’re not sure whether Michelin or Harvard will pull through first, but both are definitely off to a great start.

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