With a slew of electric vehicles hitting the market, manufacturers are scrambling to follow up with high-tech tires. So far, the likes of Harvard and Michelin have come up with airless and self-healing wheels. While both aren’t yet commercially available, NASA is already lifting the bar with its titanium tire.
Instead of atoms deforming as the spring is moved, they instead re-arrange themselves as the tire is stressed. It’s known as a “shape memory alloy,” and means that the tire can be deformed virtually limitlessly, and still snap back to its original shape.
In short, the tire can never get a flat. As NASA’s brainchild, the tire mainly adheres to space explorations. Still, it could hypothetically exist on regular vehicles with some tweaks.
You can’t exactly use a metal wheel on the highway and expect much grip, but a metal frame could… be coated with a higher-friction material to give a tire that’s grippy and deformable for off-roading.
With NASA, I don’t imagine anything comes as a steal — but if it saves me a tire change, I’ll take it.
With the rise of solar power comes a great hurdle — bringing it into households. While scientists at the University of Exeter have masterminded glass solar blocks, those at UC Berkeley are working down to the atom. To bring cheaper options to the table, UCLA research teams are testing a solar gadget that creates hydrogen and electricity.
Along with the usual positive and negative electrodes, the device has a third electrode that can either store energy electrically or use it to split water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms – a process called water electrolysis.
The pocket-fitting tool produces clean energy to power appliances and vehicles. It also incorporates nickel, iron, and cobalt into hydrogen production, replacing platinum, which is scarce.
“Hydrogen is a great fuel for vehicles: It is the cleanest fuel known, it’s cheap and it puts no pollutants into the air – just water,” says [study head Richard] Kaner.
With a lot of work, UCLA’s newest contraption could do wonders for infrastructure and hydrogen cars. It may even bring a little sunshine to rural communities.