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The Wheel Reinvention By STC: Airless Tires, METL Technology Powered by NASA

The SMART Tire Company (STC) presented an almost indestructible tire at CES Las Vegas 2023 in Nevada; a tire that in practical terms means the reinvention of the wheel.

After the wheel was invented (or maybe “discovered”) thousands of years ago, the world and our everyday life was never the same again. However, that does not mean that a revolutionary idea - as it actually was at the time - automatically equals perfection. Nowadays, although it is one the components that has evolved the most - at a technological level - it continues to be a source of important problems that science tries to find a remedy for. In this context, Smart Tire Company (STC) has just presented a new kind of tires, called “METL”, that it describes as "practically indestructible" and which are already being getting ready for sale on the markets.

The most important problem with current tires is punctures, although it is clearly not the only one. Even the most modern systems, such as “Runflat” - which prevents them - do not actually prevent wear, yet another of the most important modern drawbacks; even more taking into account that the resulting particles are very polluting and highly harmful for the environment and especially for human lungs. In addition, production and even the recycling process of its components are also activities that badly harm the environment, at many different levels.

Tesla Model S, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

STC (Smart Tire Company) was presented at CES 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the intention of solving all these problems. The very name of the company 'SMART' gives an idea of ​​its intentions, since it's an acronym for 'Shape Memory Alloy Radial Technology'. This is a technique developed by NASA and has already been used on the wheels of the Lunar Rover. STC created the METL tires in collaboration with the NASA Glenn Research Center.

The METL tires, thanks to a patented mixture of materials and a design process that saves resources, solve all of the problems mentioned before. Its components are resistant to punctures and wear, including the most extreme circumstances and environments. And the most impressive of all is that the production process is totally GREEN and the tires can be fully recycled at the end of their useful life.

This innovation has not gone unnoticed and STC has already been awarded with the prestigious “GREEN INNOVATION AWARD” and the “REVOLUTIONARY MOTORIZED VEHICLE AWARD”. The good thing is that METL tires are already available for electric scooters, although the company's main goal - and dream - is to introduce them also for cars in the very near future.

Tesla Model X, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

The company explains that METL stands for “Martensite Elasticized Tubular Loading”. This material is one of the hardest components or constituents of ferrous alloys; tires built with it basically promise to achieve the same resistance as the metal tires used by NASA vehicles. Unlike regular rubber tires, which use pressurized air, METL alloy tires are not affected by punctures. In addition, they are capable of recovering their original shape after being deformed, thus being able to absorb irregularities without deflating.

Although they use this METL alloy for structural strength, they also feature a rubber tread to ensure grip; and while this is still prone to wear, reapplying a new one is way less expensive and less polluting than producing a new set of tires, the company explains.

Tesla Model Y, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

STC has already managed to significantly reduce the cost of materials and is now making final adjustments to bring this product to market. The latest version was already presented at CES 2023 in Las Vegas, and as we mentioned before, was given two innovation awards in the Vehicle Tech & Advanced Mobility category and in the Sustainability, Eco-Design & Smart Energy category.

The tires - for which there is already a huge waiting list - should start selling for around $100 or $150. The company's first tires are designed for bicycles, though they clearly have other ambitions: next target is electric scooters, but its real purpose is to tackle, as soon as possible, the very lucrative business of electric car tires.

SMART Tire Company says that it is in the automotive industry, a market where new technology will make the biggest difference. Flat tires are still common today; loss of pressure or inadequate inflation reduce range and greatly increase pollution. STC wants its tires to become a sort of permanent component of EVs, along with other components that do not require regular maintenance.

This innovation is very interesting for the automotive industry, since it is the first step towards a new generation of tires that do not require regular maintenance and will guarantee travelers an experience free of punctures and other similar problems. All in all, we can say that METL tires could revolutionize the tire industry and its environmental impact, while also making life easier and more comfortable for drivers everywhere.

Source: smarttirecompany

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.