The composite wheel: an innovation featuring low tire/road noise and low rolling resistance simultaneously

The Composite Wheel (CW) is an invention by a Swedish engineer which was tested by VTI in a first version in 1989. The CW is a tire/wheel construction with a rubber tread mounted on a belt supported by a self-supporting structure (plate and “spokes”) made of composite materials. This early design was found to give 10 dB lower noise than an “average” conventional tire. However, durability was insufficient. In a recent North-European cooperative project led by VTI, new versions of the CW were developed and tested. The first series of new prototypes failed, partly because spokes in the wheel construction created noise emission at the spoke impact frequencies which dominated the noise emission, partly because of insufficient adhesion strength between spokes and belt. In a second series of prototypes, the spoke-related noise was reduced to acceptable levels and lower noise emissions than for any pneumatic tire were measured. Rolling resistance was extremely low, and vehicle handling was reasonably good for being a prototype. There are still some durability problems although much less than before. It is concluded that the CW has very promising features in terms of low noise emission and rolling resistance. The paper presents the latest results measured for this tire/wheel construction.

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