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Goodyear working on self-inflating tires

AP Photo/Toby Talbot, file | BDN
AP Photo/Toby Talbot, file | BDN
In this July 16, 2011 photo, stacks of Goodyear tires are lined up at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H
By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The auto industry’s efforts to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions may pay off with the development of self-inflating tires.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said it was experimenting with what it calls Air Maintenance Technology, which will enable tires to remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for external pumps or electronics. All components of the AMT system, including a miniaturized pump, will be fully contained within the tire.

The company said Thursday that it had a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy to launch a demonstration of the system in commercial truck tires.

The government of Luxembourg is paying for the company to conduct similar research for consumer tires at Goodyear’s Innovation Center in Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg.

“While the technology is complex, the idea behind the AMT system is relatively simple and powered by the tire itself as it rolls down the road,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear senior vice president and chief technical officer.

“A tire that can maintain its own inflation is something drivers have wanted for many years. Goodyear has taken on this challenge and the progress we have made is very encouraging,” Kihn said. “This will become the kind of technological breakthrough that people will wonder how they ever lived without.”

Properly inflated tires increase fuel economy and reduce emissions. Goodyear said underinflated tires result in a 2.5 percent to 3.3 percent decrease in fuel efficiency. That adds up to about 10 cents a gallon or $1 to $2 per fill-up, depending on the vehicle.

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