Sumitomo’s concept tire harnesses friction to generate electricity

Capturing some of the energy in and around the wheels of a car as it travels down the road is an interesting idea, and one we’ve seen addressed by big tire makers before, such as Goodyear’s BH03 concept back in 2015. Japan’s Sumitomo Rubber is throwing another possibility out there, with a tire design that would leverage friction down below to produce electricity for the vehicle’s onboard accessories.

The energy-harvesting tire concept was dreamt up together with researchers from Japan’s Kansai University, with the system consisting of a regular car tire and a special energy harvesting device planted inside it.

Within that device are two layers of rubber each covered in an electrode, along with a negatively charged film that interfaces with a positively charged film. As the tire rolls across the ground and its footprint deforms, it generates a form of static electricity known as frictional charging.