The Oxygene airless tyre uses a special sidewall that has moss – one of the hardiest organisms on the planet – growing on its surface. According to Goodyear, the “living” sidewall can absorb water, either from the air or as spray coming from the road’s surface – to mix with airborne carbon dioxide. Plant science then takes over, with photosynthesis turning the mix of good and bad stuff into the oxygen we breathe.
Goodyear has run the numbers over how the “mosswall” tyres will perform, estimating that in a city about the size of Paris with 2.5 million vehicles and a pollution problem, the green rubber could generate almost 3000 tonnes of oxygen a year from more than 4000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
But there’s more environmental benefit. Goodyear imagines the puncture-proof tyre will be 3D printed, using rubber powder sourced from recycled ones. Its open structure also helps improve wet-weather grip by absorbing water from the tread.
The tyre maker even reckons it can tap the photosynthesis process to harvest electricity, which can then be used to light up the tyre to warn pedestrians or indicate a lane change to other road users.
Goodyear has had a few cracks over the years at redesigning the tyre, and so far very few of the ideas have made their way onto the cars we drive. But the company isn’t giving up.
“Like the concept designs Goodyear has presented at Geneva in the past, Oxygene is meant to challenge our thinking and help drive the debate around smart, safe and sustainable future mobility,” Chris Delaney, the president of the tyre maker’s European division, said.
“By contributing in this way to cleaner air generation, the tyre could help enhance quality of life and health for city-dwellers.”