Tire temperature is of key importance when it comes to traction and tire-wear. A recent patent filing in the UK by Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler AG, shows that they are working on an idea that could control tire temps and also help with de-icing tires in cold conditions.
The idea is really pretty simple. A network of sensors monitor tire temperature for each wheel and a computer compares it to outside temperature to determine whether water spray is necessary. The system is designed to collect water as it drips down the rear window — it can be either rainwater, water from a car wash, or melting snow. The car’s heating/cooling system is then used to control the temperature of the water.
A diagram submitted with the patent illustrates an innovative system that improves traction by spraying hot water on tires in order to melt snow and ice. The water is pumped out of a small storage tank and through a heat exchanger, a process that makes it hot enough to melt snow. It’s then sprayed directly onto the spinning tire by three small nozzles integrated into the wheel well. No mention of an antifreeze agent is made for this particular filing, though previous efforts to solve ice buildup on tires in winter have included ethylene glycol.
Alternatively, the technology can be used to prevent tires from getting too hot, either in the summer or when driving on a track. An additional nozzle could be added to help cool the brakes as well. Many performance vehicles utilize vented and/or cross-drilled rotors, and dedicated air ducts to help dissipate heat. Spraying the brakes could possibly be used to help in braking performance.
Through the control of tire temperature, they will be able to extend a tire’s life, as well as to improve its performance in all driving conditions. Furthermore, cars fitted with the system should be safer, as the tires will have a reduced risk of explosion if their temperature is controlled in all conditions.
If and when this type of system would be implemented is yet to be seen, but it’s nice to know that Daimler’s engineers are at least thinking about it.