There’s nothing like a healthy dose of snakeoil to remind you that some ideas, whilst sounding amazing in theory, are just not worth pursuing. In this age of 3D renders and photoshop it doesn’t take long for an idea to make its way into what looks like a plausible reality and the unfortunate truth of the Internet holding novelty above all else means such ideas can permeate quickly before they’re given the initial sanity check. Worst still is when well established companies engage in this behaviour, ostensibly to bolster their market presence in one way or another with an idea that may only have a passing relationship with reality. In that vein I present to you the Goodyear BH03, a concept idea that will simply never work:
Sounds cool right? Your tyres can help charge the battery of your shiny new electric car by using the heat it generates from the road and even from the sun when it’s parked outside! Indeed it sounds like such a great idea it makes you wonder why it’s taken so long for someone to think of it as even regular cars to could do with a little extra juice in the battery, potentially avoiding those embarrassing calls to the NRMA to get a jumpstart.
Of course the real reason as to why it hasn’t been done before is because it simply won’t do what they say it will.
You see translating heat into electricity is a notoriously inefficient exercise. Even RTGs, the things that we use to power our deep space craft like Voyager, can only achieve a conversion rate of some 10% of the total heat emitted. That means that kilowatts of heat generated by a red hot lump of decaying plutonium end up being maybe a hundred or so watts of usable electricity. Compare that to the surface area of a tyre, which is at most a square meter, receiving approximately 1KW worth of sun energy under ideal conditions, and you can maybe get 400W under perfect conditions with ideal conversion rates with all 4 tyres.
If you say the tyres spend about 8 hours a day under those conditions (again incredibly ideal) and you’ll get a grand total of 3.2KW into the batteries which, if we use a Tesla as an example, would give you about 15kms worth of range. If you want a more realistic figure with say only half the tyre exposed and the ideal duration much smaller then you’re looking at cutting that figure to less than half. It’s the same problem with putting solar panels on the roof of electric cars, they’re simply not going to be worth the investment because the power they generate will, unfortunately, be minimal.
Still they look cool, I guess.