A flat tire can leave you feeling defeated and deflated. It is nearly impossible to get enough torque on those small wrenches that come with the car to put on the spare and, once the full-size tire comes off, chances are it is never going back on. Often, the only good long-term solution is to replace the tire.
But that may be soon be a thing of the past. Scientists from Germany and Finland have developed rubber than self-heals after being punctured. This rubber doesn't require vulcanization, an essential step that allows it to be durable and elastic.
"Invented by Charles Goodyear, chemical cross-linking of rubbers by sulfur vulcanization is the only method by which modern automobile tires are manufactured," reads the study abstract. This new method involves "converting commercially available and widely used bromobutyl rubber into a highly elastic material with extraordinary self-healing properties without using conventional cross-linking or vulcanizing agents."
The researchers presented their findings in Applied Materials and Interfaces, a journal of the American Chemical Society, along with a video which describes how the process works.
In the experiment, a cut in the rubber healed itself at room temperature and heat, especially when applied in the first 10 minutes after the tear, sped up the process.
"After eight days, the rubber can withstand pressures of more than 750 psi, that's about 20 times the normal amount of pressure on a tire," the narrator says in the video uploaded by the American Chemical Society.
This means a tire could repair itself while sitting in a garage, which beats having to take it to the shop.
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