Bicycle tires as soft as rubber but as tough as titanium, inspired by NASA rovers

Do you know nitinol? This nitinol is an alloy of titanium and nickel. That makes it a super elastic shape memory material. It can be bent and deformed at will and returns to its original shape when heated to certain temperatures. The alloy, which is exposed to high heat, is thus driven into the desired shape.

Depending on the composition, it can easily return to its original shape thanks to body temperature or more intense heat. A specific example of nitinol use? In medicine, this material consists of cardiac stents that hold an artery open without deforming it! NASA envisions a completely different use. Explanations.

Nitinol in space?

According to NASA, this nitinol could play a key role in space exploration and particularly in the exploration of Mars, the red planet. Space-saving, weight-saving, nitinol could replace mechanisms such as ball bearings or solar panel hinges.

Above all, however, Nitinol could become a revolutionary material that would enable the manufacture of puncture-proof bikes! As flexible as rubber, but as resilient as titanium, Nitinol could equip the next rovers that will explore the planet Mars. The fact that they are hyperlaxed would allow certain locations to be explored more closely than traces of metal.

As flexible as rubber, but as tough as titanium. Photo credit: The SMART Tire Company

What about nitinol in real life?

And if we extrapolate something, nitinol tires could also be the “future” of our motorcycles! NASA will likely apply for a patent on this. Patent that could prove very lucrative elsewhere. And through The SMART Tire Company, a start-up partner of NASA, our motorcycles could be equipped with these wheels that are as tough as titanium!

Before that, one last problem has to be solved! Nitinol tires tend to take in whatever is underneath. To avoid this inconvenience, the start works with a polyurethane layer that protects it from this inconvenience. The SMART Tire Company wants to become “Tesla the tire” and is already imagining its tires for all possible vehicle types! Be continued!