The invention of the wheel has been the most important development in the history of human civilization. The unlimited uses of this technology is the reason that we see wheels being used all over the world in all sorts of machinery.
A reality of living in a society dominated by wheels is the presence of tires and their punctures. Punctures happen when the Polymer Links in a tire are broken and cannot be repaired.
Even if they are patched up, these tires still remain faulty, and over time can cause the tire to become unusable. This is an unavoidable issue, as this inability to be repaired is a side effect of the construction process itself.
The current construction process of tires uses a curing process known as Vulcanization, which involves adding sulfur and other compounds to the rubber in order to boost the durability of the tire by forming cross-links (the ones that break during punctures) between the polymer chains.
Now, scientists from Germany and Finland hope to remove this problem of breakable polymer links by getting rid of the vulcanization process altogether.
They aim to replace this process by replacing sulfur with carbon/nitrogen compounds to produce the same effect, while adding an additionally ability which allows broken polymer links to be repaired over time.
What this means is that even if these new tires are punctured, they will be able to repair themselves with ease, without any outside help.
This new process has already been tested in laboratory settings, where it showcased self healing abilities at room temperature. This ability was accelerated when the rubber was heated.
Not only that, but the repaired tire didn’t betray any hint of lasting damage long after the repairing process was complete.
The researchers are now working on making this technology easily replicable and scalable, so that one day tire punctures would become a thing of the past.