Fashion is always evolving, especially in the shoe industry. Sneakers don’t only look cool — they feel cool. They’re also becoming more sustainable, with kicks like Clark Ultra Blooms, which are made with algae. Groups like Viupax are even designing eco-friendly shoe boxes. Rubber may be hard to get around, but brands are trying to be less wasteful. In fact, Manchester researchers are infusing rubber soles with graphene, making shoes sturdier than ever.
To create the super-strong soles, researchers… heated up rubber and then added microscopic particles of graphene into the mix at the same point you’d add other preservatives and colours.
The shoe, which will sell at a wallet-guzzling £150, is 50% more resistant to damage. It’s also significantly stretchier, which brings together the usually problematic features of grip and strength.
“It’s this compromise between trying to get this very good grip and having a hard-wearing, long-lasting compound of rubber,” says [developer Aravind] Vijayaraghavan.
It may not eliminate rubber entirely, but at least it’ll add some years to a rather short lifespan.
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.
While recycled backpacks prove that car parts can be sustainable, the same can’t be said about tires. That is, until Michelin stepped in. The renowned automotive manufacturer has come out with a 3D printed clean tire that uses no air and is biodegradable.
The new Michelin VISION concept is a 3D-printed, airless, wheel-tire combination composed of organic, biodegradable materials, including orange zest, bamboo, molasses, wood, and natural rubber.
The eco-friendly tire eliminates the use of petroleum, which is hazardous when decomposing. Standard tires consume up to 38 liters of petroleum. VISION tires, because of their sustainable material, don’t need replacing.
It can be “recharged” as often as necessary with a new layer of treads; the 3D-printed treads can be tweaked to adapt to weather and road conditions.
Sensor chips will also allow mechanics to review information regarding usage of each tire. But like all new technologies, VISION requires less human intervention due to its 3D-printed nature. Will this mean a massive drop in employment? Michelin certainly hopes not — and anyway, they have nearly a decade to think about it, as VISION is not yet consumer-ready.