Indian-American owned firm developing zero pressure tyre for US army

Washington, March 7: An Indian-American owned engineering firm is developing a unique carbon fibre hoop design zero pressure tyre for the US military that could keep military vehicles running faster and longer after an attack.

Akron, Ohio based American Engineering Group (AEG) has received a $1 million Phase II project grant from the US defence department to develop a tyre that will continue running even after being shredded by roadside bombs or gunfire.

Though military vehicle tyres are now equipped with run-flat inserts, the defence department wants to upgrade to a zero pressure tyre that’s better at carrying heavier loads and can quickly move soldiers out of harm’s way, the company said in a media release.

Zero pressure tyres have been around for a long time, with major drawbacks such as bumpy rides and overheating.

The AEG prototype dissipates heat and has the tyre flexibility and strength to support the heavy military pick-up weight while providing a relatively smooth ride, the company said.

“AEG’s motivation and driving force for this project are that AEG gets the privilege to be of help to save lives of our soldiers,” said India-born Abraham Pannikottu, who founded AEG in 2000.

The new AEG Zero Pressure Tyre will withstand a minimum of 50 mph speeds for 300 miles (480 km)once it’s punctured, based on results from Phase I completed studies in 2011.

“This level of load carrying capability and survivability surprised even me,” said Jon Gerhardt, one of the designers.

As for commercial applications of the zero pressure design for run-flat tyres, AEG is focusing its current efforts on the pick-up truck.

Abraham has a mechanical engineering degree from Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology in Surat, Gujarat. He later completed graduate studies in polymer science at the University of Akron.

In 2006 Pentagon honoured Pannikottu and his engineering group for exceptional performance that exemplifies the goal of bringing innovative technologies to the soldier for designing an airless tyre for the Stryker armoured vehicle.

His group is also working on new innovative products such as US national football league helmet and implantable cost-effective titanium hip and knee.

IANS