Can a tire have high grip and a low rolling resistance? I talk with Michelin at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas to find out! When it comes to designing for efficiency, there are five major forces which a vehicle needs to overcome: aerodynamics, internal friction, gravity, inertia, and finally, rolling resistance.

Rolling resistance is the energy consumed by a tire as it travels over a specific distance. Energy is lost as heat when the tire deforms on the road, creating the contact patch, and then returns to its original state as the tire continues to rotate. How much energy is lost is a result of the tire’s hysteresis. The goal is to reduce rolling resistance while still maintaining grip.

Silica compounds, first invented by Michelin, have low energy losses in the low frequency range, meaning low rolling resistance, but high energy losses in the high frequency range, meaning they have high grip. As a result, it truly is possible to have tires which exhibit low rolling resistance and yet all the while high levels of grip. Michelin is one of many partners that plays an important role in the Shell Eco-marathon, dedicating a manufacturing plant for two days per year just for making the ultra-low rolling resistance tires used by the teams.

The Shell Eco-Marathon is a competition where students around the globe compete to design, build, and test vehicles with the goal of creating a vehicle that goes the furthest distance using as little energy as possible. Big thanks to Shell for having me out to the event and sponsoring this video! Check out the 

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