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Michelin researchers win patent award for ‘auto-regenerate’ tire

PARIS — A pair of Group Michelin researchers have earned European inventor of the year recognition by the European Patent Office (EPO) for the company’s “auto-regenerate” truck tire design, which allows the tire’s tread design to evolve as the tire wears.

The award is in the industry category.

At a June 7 event in Paris, Michelin researchers Agnès Poulbot and Jacques Barraud were recognized for their work on a new generation of tires, marketed as the “Regenion” tire technology.

Ms. Poulbot is described as a specialist in 3D design simulation programs, while the late Mr. Barraud was a senior expert in tire design and production for heavy vehicles. He died in July 2016.

The tread design, carried out by 3D metal printing, includes several distinct layers of tread within the same tire.

As the outermost layer is worn down, a new tread will emerge to be in contact with the road surface. This can extend the tire’s lifespan by up to 20 percent, Michelin said.

Additionally, Michelin claims tires with the Regenion design offer reduced rolling resistance and thus help to increase fuel efficiency.

According to the EPO citation, upgrading a vehicle to Regenion tires reduces that vehicle’s CO2 emissions by nearly 8,120 pounds over the life of the tire or compared with conventional models.

The EPO noted that passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for around 12 and 5 percent, respectively, of total European Union emissions of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, according to European Commission data.

Michelin also noted its Regenion-based truck tires achieved an “A” grade for rolling resistance.

The patent was awarded in 2013, and Michelin has produced and sold truck and passenger tires with the technology since 2013 and 2016, respectively.

In announcing the award, Michelin also noted the contribution of its metal additive manufacture, or 3D metal printing, as a key contributor in bringing the technology from concept to reality.

The concept debuted in North America in 2014 in the Michelin Premier A/S tire with “EverGrip” technology.

The EPO awards were given in five categories of industry, research, non-EPO countries, SMEs and lifetime achievement.

Also winning the industry awards were Lego’s programmable robots and ASML Netherlands’ latest ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) advances in producing microprocessors.

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