Holy Fix-A-Flat, Batman! Straight out of the 1960s Batman TV show the self-healing tire is here. According to a study published in the journal Applied Materials & Interfaces, of the American Chemical Society, a research team from Finland and Germany have invented a new rubber that can heal itself after being punctured.
In simple scientific terms, rubber is a substance made up of numerous elastic strands of molecules. When punctured, the strands generally break apart. Rubber manufacturers across the world generally add some sulfur during the process of making rubber because it gives the material more elastic properties and thereby makes it more durable. This is commonly known as vulcanization. Nevertheless, once a sharp object such as a piece of glass punctures a tire, the rubber generally cannot be patched.
Study leader Amit Das wrote in detail about the new process of creating rubber that “flat tire resistant rubbers.” He stated that the new process actually has nothing at all to do with vulcanization.
Das noted: “Here, we describe a simple approach to converting commercially available and widely used rubber into a highly elastic material with extraordinary self-healing properties without using conventional cross-linking or vulcanizing agents.”
The investigative team discovered that following many different tests, it is indeed possible to manufacture rubber that heals itself after they are cut or pierced. The various tests conducted at room temperature yielded successful results. The researchers believe this is a good indication that tires would heal themselves under real life road conditions as well.
Additionally, the group of researchers learned that this self-repairing process will have no short or even long-term adverse influences on the quality of the rubber. Das and his colleagues reported that they are still working on the project because they hope to make the new rubber even stronger perhaps by adding carbon black or other appropriate filler agents.
Scientists Invent Self-Healing Tire