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Title:
TIRE AND WHEEL NOISE REDUCING DEVICE AND SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/124182
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A system for dissipating sound shock waves within a vehicle tire includes a wheel upon which a tire is mounted to create an internal air chamber defined by the wheel and the tire. A flow-resistant barrier is coupled to the wheel or the tire and defines an air cavity within the internal air chamber. A porous spacer can support the barrier with respect to the tire and also can provide a flexible energy damper. The barrier comprises a material that provides an acoustical resistance to sound shock waves passing therethrough. The air cavity defined by the barrier has a volume such that air within the cavity offers relatively small impedance to the passage of shock waves through the barrier and into the air cavity. The barrier also can produce frictional heat when displaced by a shock wave, thereby converting energy of the shock wave to heat to reduce noise associated therevvith.

Inventors:
FOWLER-HAWKINS SANFORD ELLIOT (US)
Application Number:
US2009/039286
Publication Date:
October 08, 2009
Filing Date:
April 02, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TIRE ACOUSTICS LLC (US)
FOWLER-HAWKINS SANFORD ELLIOT (US)
International Classes:
B60C5/00; B60B19/00; B60C17/04; B60C19/00
Foreign References:
US20060289100A12006-12-28
JP2004082947A2004-03-18
US5479974A1996-01-02
JP2003285607A2003-10-07
JP2006306285A2006-11-09
JP2005205937A2005-08-04
US20030188817A12003-10-09
JPH04159101A1992-06-02
Other References:
See also references of EP 2279086A4
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ISAACS, William, O. (1180 Peachtree Street NE 34th Floo, Atlanta GA, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A svstem for dissipating sound shock waves, comprising: a wheel; a tire mounted to said wheel, thereby creating an internal air chamber defined by said wheel and said tire; a spacer disposed within the internal air chamber and defining a volume of a first air cavity within the internal air chamber, said spacer comprising a porous material that allows air flow therein; and a flow-resistant barrier disposed within the internal air chamber, said flow-resistant barrier defining a boundary of the first air cavity that is within the internal air chamber and that is between said flow-resistant barrier and said tire, said flow-resistant barrier also defining a boundary of a second air cavity that is within the internal air chamber and that is between said flow-resistant barrier and said wheel, and said barrier comprising a material that provides an acoustical resistance to sound shock waves passing therethrough.

2. The system according to claim 1, wherein centrifugal force causes said flow-resistant barrier to contact said spacer and when said wheel and said tire are in motion.

3. The system according to claim 1, wherein the second air cavity has a volume such that air within the second air cavity offers relatively small impedance to the passage of shock waves through said barrier and into the second air cavity.

4. The system according to claim 1 , wherein said spacer decreases the deformation of said tire, thereby reducing a rolling resistance of said tire.

5. The system according to claim 1, wherein said spacer comprises a spacer edge corresponding to a circumference of said tire, and wherein said flow-resistant barrier comprises a flow-resistant barrier edge corresponding to a circumference of said tire.

6. The system according to claim 1, wherein said spacer comprises a width corresponding to a width between sidewalls of said tire, and wherein said flow-resistant barrier comprises a width corresponding to the width between sidewalis of said tire.

7. The system according to claim I. wherein said spacer is coupled to said tire by gluing, crimping, threading, molding, and welding.

8. The system according to claim 1 , wherein said spacer is disposed within said tire by being compressed between sidewalls of said tire.

9. The system according to claim 1. wherein said flow-resistant barrier is coupled to said spacer by gluing, crimping, interlocking, or threading.

10. The system according to claim 1 , further comprising a ridge element disposed within the internal air chamber defined by said wheel and said tire, wherein the ridge element is adjacent to said tire.

1 1. The system according to claim 10, wherein said ridge element deflects a circular resonance created by a deflection of the tire.

12. A system for dissipating sound shock waves, comprising: a tire that can be mounted to a wheel to create an internal air chamber defined by said tire and the wheel; a spacer disposed within said tire, said spacer comprising a porous material that allows air flow therethrough, a barrier disposed within the internal air chamber between said spacer and a bead of said tire, said barrier defining a boundary of a first air cavity that is within the internal air chamber and that is between said barrier and said tire, said barrier also defining a boundary of a second air cavity that is within the internal air chamber and that is between said barrier and the wheel, and said barrier comprising a material that provides an acoustical resistance to sound shock waves passing therethrough, wherein the second air cavity defined by said barrier has a volume such that air within the second air cavity offers relatively small impedance to the passage of shock waves through said barrier and into the second air cavity.

13. The system according to claim 12, further comprising the wheel, wherein said tire is mounted to said wheel.

14. The system according to claim 12, wherein said spacer is disposed within said tire by being compressed between sidewalls of said tire.

15. The system according to claim 14, wherein said barrier is coupled to said spacer.

16. The system according to claim 12, further comprising a ridge element disposed within said tire and coupled to an internal surface of a tread of said tire, said ridge element being configured to deflect a circular resonance of said tire.

17. A system for dissipating noise-producing shock waves, comprising: an element comprising a flow-resistant barrier and a support member disposed in an internal air chamber defined by a wheel and a tire, said element, said at least one flow- resistant barrier comprising a material that provides an acoustical resistance to sound shock waves passing therethrough, and said support member comprising a [stiff] material that allows air to flow therethrough,

VN herein said flow-resistant barrier defines a first air cavity that is within the internal air chamber and that is between said flow-resistant barrier and the wheel, wherein said flow-resistant barrier also defines a second air cavity that is w ithin the internal air chamber and that is between said flow-resistant barrier and the tire, and wherein said spacer defines at least a portion of a volume of the second air cavity.

18. The system according to claim 17, wherein said spacer defines the entire volume of the second air cavity.

19. The system according to claim 17. wherein said element comprises a width to accommodate a compression fit between sidewalls of the tire.

20. The system according to claim 17, further comprising the tire, wherein said element is disposed within the tire by being compressed between sidewalls of said tire.

21. The system according to claim 20, further comprising the wheel, wherein said tire is mounted to said wheel.

22. The system according to claim 17, wherein centrifugal force causes said flow-resistant barrier to contact said spacer when said system is in motion.

23. The system according to claim 17, further comprising a second element comprising a flow-resistant barrier and a support member, said second element being disposed within the first air cavity such that the support member of the second element is adjacent to the flow-resistant barrier of said first element.

24. The system according to claim 17, further comprising the tire, wherein said element is coupled to at least one internal surface of said tire.

Description:

TIRE AND WHEEL NOISE REDUCING DEVICE AND SYSTEM

RELATED APPLICATION

This patent application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 120 to U.S. Patent Application No. 1 1/473,928, entitled, "Tire and Wheel Noise Reducing Device and

System." filed June 23 2006, which claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 1 19 to United

States Provisional Patent Application No. 60/694,018, entitled "Tire and Wheel Noise

Absorbing Device and System,' " filed June 24, 2005. The complete disclosure of each of the above identified priority applications is hereby fully incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to reducing vehicle noise from tires and wheels. Specifically, the present invention relates to a sound-reducing device disposed in the internal air chamber created by a tire and a wheel upon which the tire is mounted.

BACKGROUND

When car tires contact a road surface, they generate considerable noise. At speeds above 25 mph in certain vehicles, tire noise can be greater than all other sources of automotive noise combined. Accordingly, car and tire manufacturers spend large amounts of resources every year on research and development to reduce tire noise.

Tire noise results from many sources. For example, tire noise results from (1) low-frequency shock waves produced by excitation of the internal tire air chamber from tire deformation caused by the contact of the tire with the road surface; (2) low-frequency tire structure ringing due to air chamber excitation caused by the deflection of the tire at road contact; (3) high-frequency external tread air compression caused by air temporarily trapped between the tread and the road surface; and (4) high-frequency contact scrub caused by the friction between the tire and the road surface. Some tread air compression noise is not avoidable. For example, tread air compression acts to clear water from the tread contact surface by compressing the water and air at road contact and then expanding the mixture at tread release.

Additionally, some contact scrub noise is not avoidable because tires have finite adhesion which generates friction and noise with the road surface.

Shock wave energy from tire deformation is transmitted from the tread contact area into the internal tire air chamber created by the tire and the wheel upon which the tire is mounted. The energy transmitted into the interna! tire air chamber is only dissipated by tire ringing and coupling of the noise to the wheel. Such tire ringing and noise coupling comprise a large portion of the total amount of tire noise.

Conventional methods for reducing tire noise have several deficiencies. In particular, those methods do not effectively absorb low-frequency energy (e.g., below 800 Hz) associated with the shock waves that produce tire noise. As tires generate significant low-frequency energy, an efficient tire noise absorber should reduce the noise produced by such low-frequency energy. However, conventional methods do not adequately reduce that noise. Additionally, low-frequency noise increases perceived high frequency noise produced by tread air compression and tire scrub. Accordingly, conventional methods fail to reduce the perceived high frequency tire noise by failing to reduce low-frequency energy noise. Other deficiencies include the difficulty of mounting a tire to a wheel when using a conventional method, the possible damage if the conventional method fails during vehicle operation, and the inefficiency of conventional methods. Conventional low-frequency noise absorbing methods exist. However, such conventional methods are not practical for small internal air chambers, such as a tire's air chamber. Such conventional low-frequency absorbing methods are too large for a tire air chamber, would prevent tire inflation, are not efficient, and/or pose safety- hazards if used in combination with a tire. Accordingly, a need exists in the art for reducing noise generated by or within tires and the wheels upon which the tires are mounted. Particularly, a need exists in the art for reducing tire noise by absorbing or reducing energy in the internal air chamber of a tire. More particularly, a need exists for a tire noise absorber/reducer that can absorb or reduce low frequency energy while operating inside a small internal air chamber, such as a tire's air chamber.

SUMMARY

A device for reducing tire noise can absorb and reduce low-frequency energy that produces tire noise. The device can absorb sound shock waves by alternately pressurizing and depressurizing a vessel having an air flow-resistant barrier. The flow- resistant barrier dampens pressure flows into and out of the vessel to dampen shock waves that pass through the barrier. Additionally, friction in the flow-resistant element of the vessel converts sound energy into heat, thus attenuating the sound. Additionally, a hybrid device can have elements of an air flow-resistant cavity absorber and elements of a frictional absorber. According to one aspect, a tire noise absorbing device can comprise multiple layers of an air flow-resistant material with multiple openings in each layer. The layers can be assembled such that the openings of each layer are offset with respect to overlapped portions of an adjacent layer. The offset openings allow air to pass through the layers when the tire is stationary and the layers are slack, thereby allowing complete inflation of the tire. The overlapping layers can be coupled to a wheel or directly to a tire to form loops of overlapped elements. When a car is put into motion and the tire begins to rotate, centrifugal force forces the overlapped layers outward and together to seal the air passages of the openings and to form an air flow-resistant cavity between the wheel and the cloth layers. Specifically, the inner layer is forced outward against the outer layer, the openings in the inner layer are sealed by the outer layer, and the openings in the outer layer are sealed by the inner layer. The layers restrict air flow between a tire (outer) side of the layers and a wheel (inner) side of the layers, thereby absorbing low-frequency energy noise as air passes through the layers.

In a further embodiment, the layers can slide against each other and create friction when displaced by low-frequency shock waves. The resulting friction can absorb additional low-frequency energy noise by dissipating such the shock waves via heat produced by the friction.

In yet another embodiment, the tire noise absorbing device can comprise a spacer element. The spacer element comprises a porous material that allows for air flow and can provide support for a flow-resistant barrier. The spacer element is positioned adjacent to a flow-resistant barrier to create multiple air cavities within the air chamber created by the tire and the wheel. When the car is put into motion and the tire begins to rotate, centrifugal force forces the flow -resistant barrier and the spacer

against each other to create an air flow-resistant cavity. The spacer defines the volume of the air flow-resistant cavity. In addition, the spacer reduces the tire's rolling resistance by providing an energy damper and reducing tire deflection as the tire rotates along a road. Increasing the absorption of low-frequency energy also can reduce the perceived high-frequency tire noise without compromising tread design or tire adhesion. The design can fit easily into an existing tire and can be mounted to existing wheels or to a tire during or after the manufacturing process.

Other aspects include variations of the position and coupling means of attaching the device to the wheel or tire. For example, the device can be coupled at a centrally located position on the wheel or with various profiles that provide different shaped flow-resistant cavities. Still other aspects include multiple elements with overlapping or interlocking ends to create the flow-resistant cavity. These elements are forced outward by centrifugal force and create a cavity when the overlapping or interlocking portions move together to create a device that resists air flow. In addition, the overlapping portions can create friction when displaced by shock waves to further absorb low frequency noise. Yet another aspect includes creating multiple flow- resistant air cavities by layering two or more flow-resistant elements around a wheel or tire. These multiple flow-resistant air cavities can absorb shock waves and can improve noise reduction. Further aspects involve a tubular, crescent, or curved element positioned on the wheel or tire, thus creating a single flow-resistant cavity. Such an element in the tubular shape also can be used in sections to create multiple flow- resistant cavities around the wheel.

The described devices can be coupled to the wheel or tire in a variety of ways. For example, the elements that create the flow-resistant cavity can be coupled to the wheel or tire with adhesive or clamps, by being crimped into a groove or flange in the wheel or tire, or by being welded, molded, or weaved into the wheel or tire.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Figure I A is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising a flow-resistant barrier disposed on a wheel for a tire according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 1 B is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system illustrated in Figure IA.

Figure 2 illustrates features of the layers of the tire noise absorbing system illustrated in Figures IA and IB according to an exemplary embodiment. Figure 3A >s a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing SYS*P™ comprising a flow-resistant barrier disposed on a wheel for a tire according to another exemplary embodiment.

Figure 3B a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system illustrated in Figure 3A. Figure 4A is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising a flow-resistant barrier disposed on a wheel for a tire according to yet another exemplary embodiment.

Figure 4B is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system illustrated in Figure 4A. Figure 5 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising multiple elements that create a flow-resistant barrier according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 6A a perspective view illustrating a portion of a tire noise absorbing system comprising multiple elements that create a flow-resistant barrier according to another exemplary embodiment.

Figure 6B is a side view of the exemplary system illustrated in Figure 6A. Figure 7 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising discontinuous elements coupled to a wheel according to an exemplary embodiment. Figure 8A is a perspective view of a tire noise absorbing system comprising multiple elements that create a flow-resistant barrier according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 8B is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system illustrated in Figure-8A. Figure 9A is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising two or more elements that create multiple flow-resistant barriers according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 9B is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system illustrated in Figure

9A.

Figure 10 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising a tubular air flow-resistant barrier according to another exemplary embodiment.

Figure 1 1 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising a continuous flow-resistant barrier according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 12 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising multiple tubular air flow-resistant barriers according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 13 is a perspective view illustrating a representative element that can be used in any embodiment illustrated in Figures 1 - 12 and 14 according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 14 is a cross-sectional view of a tire noise absorbing system comprising a flow-resistant barrier coupled to a tire mounted to a wheel according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 15 is a cross-sectional view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising a spacer and a flow resistant barrier according to an exemplary embodiment. Figure 16 is a cross-sectional view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising two spacers and two flow-resistant barriers according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 17 is a cross-sectional view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising two spacers and one flow-resistant barrier according to an exemplary embodiment.

Figure 18 is a cross-sectional view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system comprising one spacer and one flow-resistant barrier according to an exemplary embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Exemplary embodiments will be described with reference to Figures 1 -13 in which the same reference numerals represent similar elements.

Figure IA is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 100 comprising a flow-resistant barrier disposed on a wheel 140 for a tire 160 according to an exemplary embodiment. Figure I B is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system 100 illustrated in Figure IA. As shown in Figures I A and I B, the system 100 comprises mu!t'p!<\ overlapped layers U O 120 of material, which tbnn an acoustic flow-resistant barrier. The layer 1 10 comprises an outer layer with reference to the wheel 140, and the layer 120 comprises an inner layer with reference to the wheel 140. The overlapping layers 1 10, 120 are coupled to the wheel 140 along their edges at location 150 to form loops of overlapped material. In other words, the layers 1 10, 120 are wrapped around the wheel 140 and coupled to both sides of the wheel 140 at locations 150. The location 150 indicates any suitable location on the wheel 140 for coupling the flow-resistant barrier thereto. Alternatively, the layers 1 10, 120 can be coupled directly to a tire 160 in a similar fashion such that they form loops of overlapped absorptive elements for a flow-resistant barrier (see Figure 14 discussed hereinafter).

In the exemplary embodiment illustrated in Figures IA and IB, both edges of the layers 1 10, 120 are attached to opposite sides of the wheel 140 with enough slack to allow centrifugal force to force the layers 1 10, 120 outward to create the flow-resistant barrier defined by the layers 1 10. 120. The flow-resistant barrier defines an inner air cavity 170 in an internal tire air chamber defined by the tire 160 and the wheel 140. Thus, the flow-resistant barrier divides the internal tire air chamber into an inner air cavity 170 and an outer air cavity 180. The barrier defined by the layers 1 10, 120 is flow-resistant because the layers 1 10, 120 resist air flow between the outer air cavity 180 and the inner air cavity 170. In an exemplary embodiment, the volume of the inner air cavity can have a volume that is in a range of about 8% to about 40% of the total internal tire air chamber volume. Other cavity volumes are suitable. The volume of the inner air cavity 170 can be sized so that the air therein provides little resistance to the flow of sound shock waves from the outer air cavity 180 through the layers 1 10, 120 to the inner air cavity 170. Thus, the barrier comprises a material that provides an acoustical resistance to sound shock waves passing therethrough. The inner air cavity 170 defined by the barrier has a volume such that air within the inner air cavity 170 offers relatively small impedance to the passage of shock waves through the barrier and into the inner air

cavity 170. In operation, sound shock waves are produced in the outer air cavity 170 as the tire travels over a road. The sound shock waves travel toward the inner air cavity 170 and encounter the flow-resistant barrier defined by the layers 1 10, 120. As the sound shock waves pass through the barrier, the barrier absorbs energy from those shock waves due to the acoustical impedance of the barrier. Initially, the air within the inner air cavity 170 offers relatively small impedance to the passage of shock waves through the barrier and into the inner air cavity 170. As shock waves continue to pass through the barrier and into the inner air cavity 170, the inner air cavity 170 becomes pressurized with respect to the outer air cavity. At this point, the air in the inner air cavity 170 can impede the passage of shock waves through the barrier and into the inner air cavity 170. When the inner air cavity pressure becomes greater than the outer air cavity pressure, the inner air cavity 170 will depressurize as air flows out of the inner air cavity 170 to the outer air cavity 180. That process continues while the tire is in motion. Additionally, sound shock waves that pass through the flow-resistant barrier and are reflected by the wheel 140 will pass back through the flow-resistant barrier to the outer air cavity 180. The flow-resistant barrier will absorb further energy from the sound shock waves during that process, further reducing noise associated therewith. The barrier also can reduce noise associated with the sound shock waves by converting energy from those shock waves into frictional heat, as discussed in more detail hereinafter.

The layers 1 10, 120 restrict but not prevent air flow between the outer air cavity 180 and the inner air cavity 170. Accordingly, the layers 1 10, 120 provide acoustical impedance by resisting the flow of sound shock waves therethrough. In exemplary- embodiments, the layers 110. 120, can comprise flexible cloth. For example, the layers 1 10, 120 can comprise Kevlar, cotton, Spectra, silk, fiberglass, or any other suitable material. Such suitable materials generally include a weave or structure that restricts air flow through the material based on the space tightness of the weave or structure of the material.

In an exemplary embodiment, the layers 1 10, 120 can comprise a material having a weave with a porosity ranging from about 10% to about 50% cavity fill at cavity saturation, based on the resonant energy in a closed tire cavity. "Cavity fill at cavity saturation" describes the length of time required to pressurize the inner air cavity 170 by sound shock waves passing through the flow-resistant barrier formed by the

layers 1 10, 120. The time it takes to fill or empty the inner air cavity 170 determines the limit of low frequency absorption of the system 100. Other porosities are suitable. For example, an alternative suitable porosity to pressurize the inner air cavity 170 is from about 10% to about 75% at low frequencies. The lower frequency performance of a flow-resistant absorber depends on the size of the inner air cavity 170 and the efficiency of the resistance of the flow-resistant barrier created by the layers 1 10, 120. Flow resistance depends on the porosity of the material of the layers 1 10, 120, As the cavity fills w ith air from the sound shock waves passing through the flow-resistant barrier, the pressure resistant cavity absorber can reach a lower frequency limit based. The low frequency limit is established based on the time it takes for the inner air cavity 170 to fill or empty. The larger the inner air cavity 170, the lower the frequency limit. In an exemplary embodiment, the acoustical resistance of the flow-resistant barrier and the size of the inner air cavity 170 will allow acoustical sound waves to pass through the barrier quickly enough to reduce the noise associated therewith, but slowly enough to allow the inner air cavity 170 to become fully pressurized. The inner air cavity 170 is fully pressurized when it has reached the same pressure as the pressure caused by the acoustical sound waves. As the energy absorber of the system 100 is disposed within a pressurized air chamber (i.e., the internal tire air chamber), the system 100 can comprise a smaller air cavity than would be needed at normal atmospheric pressure. In the exemplary embodiment illustrated in Figures IA and I B, the apertures

130 comprise slits formed in the layers 1 10, 120. The apertures 130 in each layer 1 10, 120 are offset such that the openings in adjacent layers 1 10, 120 do not overlap. When the wheel 140 is stationary, the layers 110, 120 are slack. In that state, the apertures 130 allow air to pass therethrough, thereby allowing complete inflation of the internal tire air chamber. Complete inflation means inflation of the outer air cavity 180 between the tire and the layers 1 10, 120 and the inner air cavity 170 between the layers 1 10, 120 and the wheel 140. The apertures 130 can comprise any suitable geometry that allows the layers 1 10, 120 to conform to the wheel 140 and that allows air to pass between the layers 1 10, 120 for tire inflation. In an exemplary embodiment, the layers 1 10, 120 can be coupled directly to the wheel 140 at location 150 using an adhesive. For example, the adhesive can comprise cpoxy or other any other suitable adhesive for attaching the layers 110, 120 to the wheel 140. The adhesive can be selected based on the particular application to adhere

the layers 1 10, 120 to the wheel 140 and to resist the centrifugal force generated by the rotation of the wheel 140 and heat generated within the internal tire air chamber.

In alternative exemplary embodiments, other suitable methods can be used to couple the layers 1 10, 120 to the wheel 140. For example, the layers 1 10, 120 can be crimped into a groove (not shown) or flange (not shown) attached to or melded in the wheel 140. Alternatively, the layers 1 10, 120 can comprise a metal flange (not shown) along the edge of the layers 1 10, 120, and the flange can be welded around or otherwise coupled to the wheel 140.

As depicted in Figures IA and I B, the s\stem 100 can comprise two layers 1 10, 120. However, additional layers can be used in alternative exemplary embodiments. For example, the system 100 can comprise three or more layers. The layers can be assembled such that the apertures 130 between adjacent layers are offset and do not overlap.

Figure 2 illustrates features of the layers 1 10, 120 of the tire noise absorbing system 100 illustrated in Figures IA and IB according to an exemplary embodiment. As shown, the layers 110, 120 of the system 100 comprise continuous layers of flat material with multiple apertures 130 in each layer. In an exemplary embodiment, the openings can be spaced in a range of about 1 to about 5 inches apart. Other spacing between the openings is suitable. The continuous layers can be wrapped around and attached to the wheel 140 as illustrated in Figures IA and I B.

In an alternative exemplary embodiment (not illustrated in Figures IA, IB, 2. and 14), each layer 1 10, 120 can comprise multiple strips of material disposed adjacent to each other and overlapped to form the apertures 130. In this exemplary embodiment, the strips can have a width in the range of about 1 to about 5 inches. Other widths of the strips are suitable. In this embodiment, the strips of material can be assembled into two rings and wrapped around and attached to the wheel 140. Alternatively, the strips of material can be individually attached to the wheel 140 in the desired configuration.

In an alternative exemplary embodiment (not illustrated in Figures I A, IB, 2, and 14), the individual strips of material can be tapered on one or both edges. Tapering the strips of material at the point of attachment to the wheel 140 can allow for more complete overlap of the strips. Tapering the strips of material also can allow the strips to be attached to two different wheel diameters, which can allow matching the strips to the different diameters of different wheels 140. Additionally, tapering the edges of the

strips can allow forming the shape of the cavity to other suitable shapes. In an exemplary embodiment, the shape of the cavity can comprise a truncated cone.

A length of the layers 1 10. 120 equals the circumference of the wheel 140 along the location 150. In an alternative exemplary embodiment, the length of the layers 1 10, 120 can be greater than the circumference of the wheel MO for overlapping ends of the layers 1 10, 120 when coupling the layers 110, 120 to the wheel 140.

As shown in Figure IA, the layers 110, 120, are collapsed (or slack) close to the wheel 140 when the wheel 140 is stationary. Tire rotation inflates/erects the layers 1 10, 120 by pulling the layers 1 10, 120 outward from the center of the wheel 140. When a car on which the wheel 140 is mounted is put into motion and the wheel 140 begins to rotate, centrifugal force forces the layers 1 10, 120 outward and forces the inner layer 120 together with the outer layer 1 10 to create the flow-resistant barrier. The layers 1 10, 120 are forced together such that the apertures BO in the inner layer 120 are sealed by the outer layer 1 10 and such that the apertures 130 in the outer layer 1 10 are sealed by the inner layer 120. Accordingly, the system 100 forms two air cavities 170, 180 in an internal air chamber of a tire mounted on the wheel 140, the internal air chamber being defined by the tire 160 and the wheel 140. The outer air cavity 180 is formed on a tire (outer) side of the layers 1 10, 120, and the inner air cavity 170 is formed on a wheel 140 (inner) side of the layers 1 10, 120. In an alternative exemplary embodiment, if the tire noise reducing device does not cover the air inlet (not shown) in the wheel, then the apertures 130 in the layers 1 10. 120 in the system 100 can be omitted. In this case, two continuous layers can form a two layer torus.

Alternatively, a single, continuous layer of flow-resistant material without apertures 130 (i.e., without slits) can form a flow-resistant structure that creates the inner and outer air cavities 170, 180. The internal air chamber of a tire can fully inflate without the apertures 130 because the weave of the material does not entirely prevent air flow. In other words, the porosity of the material can allow for both tire inflation when the wheel is stationary, and sufficient flow-resistant properties for the barrier to erect under centrifugal force when the wheel is in motion. A similar continuous structure that is formed in a curved shape is described hereinafter with reference to Figure 1 1.

The layers 1 10, 120 restrict air flow between the two cavities 170, 180 in the tire's internal air chamber. The "pores" (openings between the weave of the material) restrict but do not prevent such air flow. Thus, sound shock waves transmitted from the outer cavity 180 to the inner cavity 170 and vice versa must pass through the layers 1 10, 120. Dy resisting the air flow, *he layers 1 10, 120 absorb the energy of the shock waves as the shock waves pass therethrough, thereby reducing noise, in particular, reducing low-frequency noise in the range of about 15 Hz to about 800 Hz and throughout the range of about 15 Hz to about 20 kHz.

In another exemplary embodiment, the layers 1 10, 120 can slide across each other and create friction when displaced by shock waves. This resulting friction reduces the low-frequency energy of the shock waves by turning the shock waves" energy into heat, thereby further reducing low-frequency noise associated with the low-frequency energy. For example, the two layers 1 10. 120 are held in place by centrifugal force. When the layers 1 10, 120 are displaced due to the concussion of sound energy, the geometry of the elements induces a movement between the layers 1 10, 120. Such movement causes friction between the layers 1 10, 120. Converting the sound shock wave into heat reduces the sound energy. If the layers 1 10, 120 have one side that is rougher than the other side, then the two rough sides can be disposed adjacent to each other to increase the friction between the layers 1 10, 120. The increased friction can increase the frictional diaphragm effect to more efficiently convert the sound energy into heat.

Additionally, a single-layer, continuous flow-resistant barrier can reduce noise via friction based on the movement of fibers within the weave of the material. The concussion f the sound energy moves the fibers with respect to each other, thereby causing friction within the barrier and converting sound energy into heat to reduce the sound energy.

In an exemplary embodiment, the outer layer 1 10 can comprise 3 inch wide portions between the apertures 130, and the inner layer 120 can comprise 4 inch wide portions between its apertures 130. The additional width on one of the layers can increase a seal between the layers 1 10, 120 to form the flow-resistant barrier when rotated.

In another alternative exemplary embodiment illustrated in Figure 14. the layers

1 10, 120 can be coupled to the tire 160 which is then mounted on the wheel 140.

Figure 14 is a cross-sectional view of a tire noise absorbing system 1400 comprising a flow-resistant barrier coupled to the tire 160 mounted to the wheel 140 according to an exemplary embodiment. As shown, the flow-resistant barrier comprises two layers 1402, 1404 coupled to the tire 160 at locations 1406, which is mounted on the wheel 140. The layers 1402, 1^04 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 110, 120 described previously with reference to Figures I A, IB, 2. and 14. Accordingly, those materials can have similar flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier and a frictional noise attenuator. Additionally, the layers 1402, 1404 can comprise a structure similar to the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA, IB, 2, and 14. Thus, the layers 1402, 1404 have apertures 130 formed therein. The outer layer 1402 is offset from the inner layer 1404 such that the openings 130 of the outer and inner layers 1402, 1404 do not overlap.

The layers 1402, 1404 can be coupled to the tire 160 in any suitable manner. For example, the layers 1402, 1404 can be adhered to or molded into the bead or sidewalls of the tire 160. For instance, these alternative exemplary embodiments include the following: weaving the edges of the layers 1402, 1404 into the tire 160, molding the layers 1402, 1404 into the tire 160, inserting the layers 1402, 1404 into a groove in the tire casing, adhering the layers 1402, 1404 into or onto the tire 160, or any other suitable method for coupling the layers 1402, 1404 to the tire 160. Figure 3A is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 300 comprising a flow -resistant barrier disposed on the wheel 140 according to another exemplary embodiment. Figure 3B a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system 300 illustrated in Figure 3A. As shown in Figures 3A and 3B, the system 300 comprises two layers 302, 304 of material attached to the wheel 140 to create an air flow-resistant barrier. The layers 302, 304 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 110, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA, I B, 2, and 14 and can be similarly coupled to wheel 140 or tire 160. Accordingly, those materials can have similar flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier and a frictional noise attenuator. Additionally, the layers 302, 304 can comprise a structure similar to the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA, IB, 2, and 14. Thus, the layers 302, 304 have apertures 130 formed therein. The outer layer 302 is offset from the inner layer 304 such that the openings of the outer and inner layers 302,

304 do not overlap. As illustrated, the system 300 comprises a lower profile than the

system 100 illustrated in Figures I A and I B. The main difference between the systems 100 and 300 is that layers 302, 304 create a flow-resistant barrier having a lower profile than the flow-resistant barrier created by the layers 1 10, 120. The size of the layers 302, 304 can be adjusted to create the desired profile. A lower profile can make it easier to mount the tire 160 over the layers 302, 304 on the wheel 140.

Figure 4A is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 400 comprising a flow-resistant barrier disposed on the wheel 140 according to yet another exemplary embodiment. Figure 4B is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system 400 illustrated in Figure 4A. As shown in Figures 4A and 4B, the system 400 comprises two layers 402. 404 of material attached to the wheel 140 to create an air flow-resistant barrier. The layers 402, 404 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA, IB, 2, and 14 and can be similarly coupled to the wheel 140 or tire 160. Accordingly, those materials can have similar flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier and a frictional noise attenuator. Additionally, the layers 402, 404 can comprise a structure similar to the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA, IB, 2, and 14. Thus, the layers 402, 404 have apertures 130 formed therein. The outer layer 402 is offset from the inner layer 404 such that the apertures 130 of the outer and inner layers 402, 404 do not overlap. As illustrated, the layers 402, 404 of the system 400 illustrated are attached to the wheel 140 at a more central location then the devices 100 and 300 discussed previously. In other words, the layers 402, 404 are not attached to the outer portion of the wheel 140. Rather, the layers 402, 404 are attached closer to the center cross-section of the wheel 140. The configuration illustrated in Figures 4A and 4B can make it easier to install the layers 402, 404 to the wheel 140 without covering an air inlet valve (not shown) in the wheel 140.

Figure 5 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 500 comprising multiple elements 502 that create a flow-resistant barrier according to an exemplary embodiment. The illustrated system 500 comprises multiple, individual elements 502 with ends of adjacent elements 502 overlapping. As shown, the ends of adjacent elements 502 can alternately overlap. In other words, each element 502 can have one end that is overlapped by an adjacent element 502 and another end that overlaps another adjacent element 502.

Each element 502 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers

1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA, IB, 2. and 14 and can be similarly coupled to wheel 140 or tire 160. Accordingly, those materials can have similar flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier and a frictional noise attenuator.

In an exemplary embodiment, the elements 502 can be coupled one at a time to the wheel 140. Alternatively, the elements 502 can be coupled together at the outside edges to create a strip of elements 502 that can be wrapped around and coupled to the wheel. In addition, a portion of each element 502 that is overlapped by an adjacent element 502 can remain unsecured from the wheel 140 at its edges. That configuration can allow greater tolerances in the manufacturing process.

Centrifugal force will force the elements 502 outward to contact each other at the overlapped portions to create the flow-resistant barrier. Additionally, the overlapping portions of the elements 502 can rub together when deflected by sound shock waves, thereby creating friction to convert the sound energy into heat and to attenuate the sound. Accordingly, the illustrated system 500 can provide diaphragm friction and flow resistance to reduce noise within the tire 160 mounted to the wheel 140.

As shown in Figure 5, the overlapping portions of the elements 502 are secured to each other with a fastener 506 at the midpoint of their overlap. The fastener 506 can maintain the alignment between adjacent elements 502 and can help maintain the integrity of the inner air cavity 170 created by the elements 502. In exemplary embodiments, fastener 506 can comprise thin plastic fastener, thread, glue, staples, a sonic spot weld, or any other suitable material that can adequately hold adjacent elements 502 in place with respect to each other. Alternatively, the elements 502 can be left unsecured or can be secured with more than one fastener 506 at various locations along the overlap. The fastener 506 is suitable for use with other embodiments described herein to maintain the alignment of the flow-resistant barrier.

The elements 502 of the illustrated system 500 also can be mounted with or without covering the air intake valve (not shown) in the wheel 140 and can provide more room to reliably mount the tire 160 to the wheel 140.

Figure 6A is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 600 comprising multiple elements 602, 604 that create a flow-resistant barrier according to

another exemplary embodiment. Figure 6B is a side view of the exemplary system 600 illustrated in Figure 6A. As shown in Figures 6A and 6B, the system 600 comprises multiple, individual elements 602 that each overlap the ends of two adjacent elements 604 by an amount 606. In other words, each element 602 has one end that overlaps an adjacent element 601 and another end tha* overlaps another adjacent element 604. Each element 602 represents an outer element with respect to the wheel 140. Each element 604 represents an inner element with respect to the wheel 140.

Each element 602, 604 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA, IB, 2, and 14 and can be similarly coupled to wheel 140 or tire 160. Accordingly, those materials can have similar flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier and a frictional noise attenuator.

In an exemplary embodiment, the elements 602, 604 can be coupled one at a time to the wheel 140 at location 150. Alternatively, the elements 602, 604 can be coupled together at their outside edges to create a strip of elements 602, 604 that can be wrapped around and coupled to the wheel 140. In addition, a portion of each element 604 that is overlapped by an adjacent element 602 can remain unsecured from the wheel 140 at its edges. That configuration can allow greater tolerances in the manufacturing process. Figure 7 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 700 comprising discontinuous elements 702 coupled to the wheel 140 according to an exemplary embodiment. The system 700 reduces noise via contact friction. Each element 702 comprises two strips of overlapped material, which move in relation to each other when concussed by a shock wave. The centrifugal force provided by the rotating wheel keeps the two strips in contact with each other and the displacement between the strips causes friction. The affect of the friction is to turn the audio shock wave into heat, thereby reducing the noise associated with the shock wave. In alternative exemplary embodiments, additional strips of material can be provided for each element 702. Additional alternative exemplary embodiments can comprise only one element 702 or any number of multiple elements 702 coupled to the wheel 140.

Figure 8A is a perspective view of a tire noise absorbing system 800 comprising multiple elements 802 that create a flow-resistant barrier according to an exemplary embodiment. Figure 8B is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system 800

illustrated in Figure 8A. As shown in Figures 8A and 8B, the system 800 comprises multiple interlocking elements 802 that each comprises components 802a, 802b.

Component 802a is an outer layer (with respect to the wheel 140) of flow-resistant material attached to the wheel 140 at location 150. Component 802b is nn inner layer (with resnect to the wheel 140) of flow-resistant materia! that is attached to the wheel 140 only at its edges beneath component 802a. Thus, a space between the surfaces of components 802a and 802b exists.

Component 802b is longer than component 802a such that it protrudes beyond component 802a a distance of D. The portion of component 802b that extends beyond component 802a is slightly narrower such that its edges do not need to couple directly to the wheel 140. As shown, the illustrated system 800 comprises multiple continuous elements 802 with protruding ends of each component 802b of one element 802 interlocked between surfaces of components 802a and 802b of an adjacent element 802. Centrifugal force will push the components 802a, 802b outward to contact each other to create the flow-resistant barrier. Additionally, the components 802a, 802b will rub together, thereby creating friction to convert sound energy into heat. Accordingly, the illustrated system 800 can provide the diaphragm friction and flow resistance to reduce noise within a tire 160 mounted to the wheel 140.

The system 800 can provide an essentially-sealed, flow-resistant barrier when the tire is rotating, and sufficient air flow for tire inflation when the device is slack. In an exemplary embodiment, the components 802a, 802b of each element 802 can be coupled together with thread, adhesive, or any other suitable material. Multiple adjacent elements 802 can be coupled together at their edges to create a strip of elements 802 that can be wrapped around and coupled to the wheel 140. Alternatively, the elements 802 can be individually coupled to the wheel 140.

The elements 802, either in a strip or individually, can be coupled to the wheel 140 or tire 160 in a variety of ways as otherwise described herein. For example, they can be glued to the wheel, fitted into a groove, or glued to the tire. In addition, adjacent elements 802 can be secured together using fasteners 506 as previously described with reference to Figure 5.

The elements 802 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA. I B, 2, and 14 and can be similarly coupled to the wheel 140 or tire 160. Accordingly, those materials can have

flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier and a frictional noise attenuator.

Figure 9A is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 900 comprising two or more elements 902, 904 that create multiple flow-resistant barriers according to an exemplary embodiment. Figure 9B is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary system 900 illustrated in Figure 9A. As shown in Figures 9A and 9B. the elements 902, 904 represent one more of the embodiments illustrated or described herein in one or more of Figures 1 -8. In addition, elements 902, 904 can represent one or more of the embodiments described hereinafter in one or more of Figures 10-12. In an exemplary embodiment, elements 902, 904 comprise the same structure.

Alternatively, elements 902, 904 can comprise different structures. For example, element 902 can comprise two overlapping continuous layers of material with openings therein as illustrated in any of Figures 1-4. Element 904 can be the same as element 902. Alternatively, element 904 can comprise any of the structures illustrated in Figures 5-8 or 10-12, such as alternating overlapping elements as illustrated in Figure 5.

Regardless of the structure of elements 902, 904, each element can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA. IB, 2, and 14 and can be similarly coupled to the wheel 140 or tire 160. Accordingly, those materials can have flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier and a frictional noise attenuator for each element 902, 904.

The two elements 902, 904 are coupled to the wheel 140 or tire 160 such that they form three flow-resistant air cavities within the internal tire air chamber. The inner air cavity 170 is formed between the wheel 140 and the inner element 902. The middle air cavity 975 is formed between elements 902 and 904. The outer air cavity 180 is formed between element 904 and the tire. In alternative exemplary embodiments, additional elements can be used to create more air flow-resistant barriers and air cavities within the internal tire air chamber. The creation of multiple flow-resistant barriers restricts air flow through each barrier and therefore absorbs noise associated with sound shock waves passing therethrough. In an exemplary embodiment, the middle air cavity 975 can have a volume that less than the volume of the inner air cavity 170. In another exemplary embodiment, the middle air cavity 975

can have a volume that is about 60-75 percent less than the volume of the inner air cavity 170.

In an exemplary embodiment, the elements 902, 904 can be coupled to each other and then to the wheel 140 or tire 160 at location 150. Alternatively, each element can be coupled to the wheel or tire individually at the same or separate locations. \ variety of coupling means can be used as discussed herein including adhesives, clamps, insertion into a groove, or other suitable method.

As shown in Figures 9A and 9B, the elements 902, 904 create three air cavities 170, 180, 975 within the internal tire air chamber. Additional elements can be used to create additional air cavities, if desired. Additionally, the air cavities 170, 180, 975 can be formed by coupling elements 902, 904 to the tire 160.

Figure 10 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 1000 comprising a tubular air flow-resistant barrier 1002 according to another exemplary embodiment. Barrier 1002 comprises a tubular element of flow-resistant material woven in a curved shape such that it fits in f he internal tire air chamber defined by the wheel 140 and tire 160. The centrifugal force provided by the rotating wheel causes the tubular barrier to erect and to fill with air, creating a flow-resistant cavity that will absorb shock waves flowing through the barrier 1002 to reduce tire noise.

The tubular barrier 1002 can be coupled around the wheel in a variety of suitable ways. For example, the tubular barrier 1002 can be tapered and coupled at its ends, thus sealing the air cavity in one location. It can also be weaved together to create a continuous circular air cavity. Such an embodiment can be weaved or coupled in any other suitable way either directly around the wheel or in advance and then fitted over the wheel. The element 1002 then can be coupled to the wheel or tire. Alternatively, it can be left unsecured, staying in position by encompassing the circumference of the wheel 140.

The element 1002 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA. I B, 2, and 14 and can be similarly coupled to wheel 140 or tire 160. Accordingly, those materials can have flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier.

Figure 1 1 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 1 100 comprising a continuous flow -resistant barrier 1 102 according to an exemplary embodiment. Barrier 1 102 comprises a crescent-shaped element woven in a curved

shape such that it fits around the wheel 140. Alternatively, the curvature of barrier 1 102 can be semi-circular or any other suitable curvature. For example, barrier 1 102 can be curved such that it makes up 180 to 270 degrees of a circle, with its ends separated by distance 1 104. Barrier 1 102 can be coupled to the tire or wheel by any suitable means described herein Centrifugal force provided by rotating wheel MO causes the barrier 1 102 to erect and to fill with air, creating a flow -resistant barrier that will absorb shock waves flowing through the element 1002 to reduce tire noise.

Barrier 1 102 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA, IB, 2, and 14. but without apertures 130, and can be similarly coupled to wheel 140 or tire 160. Accordingly, those materials can have flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier. At the same time, the material can still provide enough air flow to allow for complete tire inflation.

Figure 12 is a perspective view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 1200 comprising multiple tubular air flow -resistant barriers 1202 according to an exemplary embodiment. Barriers 1202 are tubular elements weaved in a curved shape and then coupled to the wheel 140 or tire 160, creating multiple flow- resistant air cavities each similar to those previously discussed with reference to Figure 10. Alternatively, multiple elements 1202 can be coupled together at their ends 1204 to form a circle that will fit in the internal tire air chamber defined by the wheel 140 and the tire 160. The centrifugal force provided by the rotating wheel will cause the barriers 1202 to erect and to inflate with air, creating separate flow-resistant cavities around the wheel 140.

Figure 13 is a perspective view illustrating a representative element 1300 that can be used in any embodiment illustrated in Figures 1-12 and 14 according to an exemplary embodiment. Thus, Figure 13 illustrates an element 1300 whose characteristics can be used in the elements of any of the previously described embodiments to create a flow-resistant barrier. Element 1300 comprises a dampener 1302 arranged in a pattern lengthwise along element 1300. Dampener 1302 can reduce the natural resonance vibration of the material, thus causing element 1300 to remain stiffer under high torque situations to maintain proper shape and to prevent breakage. The dampening can increase the absorbing performance because the absorber will have reduced performance if it is just vibrating in resonance with an existing sound source. Dampener 1302 can comprise a pliable material such as silicone rubber, a permeable

oil, thread, epoxy, an additional cloth element, or other suitable material. The pliable material can add local stiffening to the element 1300 to create different resonant characteristics for a particular type of cloth, thereby targeting a desired spectrum of low-frequency energy. For example, Dampener 1302 can be added to a single location. or, alternatively, it can be arranged in a pattern alcig element 1300, cither cross-wise, length-wise, or in another suitable formation.

The element 1300 also comprises an attachment 1304. Attachment 1304 comprises a material attached to the edges of element 1300 to produce a composite edge that provides ease and efficiency in attaching the element 1300 to either the wheel 140 or tire 160. This coupling option provides a possible alternative to the previously mentioned coupling options. Attachment 1304 comprises a material that will couple more easily to the wheel 140 or tire 160 than the material of element 1300 will couple to those items. In alternative exemplary embodiments, attachment 1304 can comprise plastic, cotton, fabric, metal, or any other suitable material for coupling the element 1302 to the wheel 140 or the tire 160.

Attachment 1304 can be attached to the material of element 1300 with adhesive, thread, or other suitable means. As illustrated in Figure 13, attachment 1304 comprises a strip of suitable material coupled to element 1300 along the length of the edges of element 1300. Alternatively, attachment 1304 can comprise smaller, distinct pieces that are attached repeatedly along the edges of element 1300.

The element 1300 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 1 10, 120 described previously with reference to Figures IA, I B, 2, and 14 and can be similarly coupled to wheel 140 or tire 160. Accordingly, those materials can have flow-resistant properties to create a flow-resistant barrier and a frictional noise attenuator.

Figure 15 is a cross-sectional view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 1500 comprising a spacer 1502 and a flow resistant barrier 1504 according to an exemplary embodiment.

Spacer 1502 comprises a porous, semi-rigid, flexible material that allows for air to flow through it, includes air cavities, and supports the element 1504 away from the internal surface of the tire's 160 tread. In an exemplary embodiment, the spacer 1502 can be comprised of a particulated foam, a non-open nylon, a metal, an expanded glue, a mesh filament, various grades of nylon mesh (including non-woven nylon mesh), and

rubber. In addition, other suitable materials can be used that are flexible, allow air flow through the material, and retain their shape under nominal force, such as sponge-like materials. The spacer 1502 can hold the barrier 1504 in position to form one or more air cavities. The spacer 1502 also deflects circular standing waves into the barrier 1504. In an alternative embodiment, the spacer 1502 can have a variable density to reduce weight and to allow for greater resistance to centrifugal force. For example, a layer of the spacer 1502 can be less porous in areas where the spacer 1502 may undergo greater impact from the deflection of the tire 160 as it rotates along a road. This higher density of the spacer 1502 in certain areas can allow for greater durability of the spacer 1502.

Spacer 1502, as a porous material, is an air cavity, and functions as an air cavity as described herein with reference to Figures 1-14. As such, the spacer 1502 provides little resistance to the flow of sound shock waves. When the system 1500 is put into motion, the spacer 1502, and the air cavity 1506, discussed herein below, can become pressurized and depressurized as described herein with reference to Figure 1. The spacer 1502 is pressurized and depressurized by the energy from the tire.

In an exemplary embodiment, the spacer 1502 can have any suitable thickness that is less than the distance from the wheel 140 to the tire 160 and that allows for tire mounting. In particular, the thickness of the spacer 1502 can be selected to provide the desired volume of the air cavity defined by the element 1504 and the tire 160, which also determines the volume of the air cavity defined by the element 1504 and the wheel 1508 (potentially also being defined by a portion of the tire 160. Further, in another exemplary embodiment, the spacer 1502 can have a length approximately equal to the circumference of the tire, and a width 1508 that the width of the inside of the tire 160 at the point where the spacer 1502 and the element 1504 contact the tire 160. In one exemplary embodiment, the width 1508 is slightly wider than the width of the tire at that contact point and the thickness is approximately one-half inch. Ends of the spacer 1502 can be coupled together to form a circular ring shape which will fit around the wheel 140 and inside the tire 160. The ends of the spacer 1502 can be coupled together by any suitable means of attachment, including thread and adhesive.

In an exemplary embodiment, element 1504 comprises a flow-resistant barrier. The element 1504 can comprise materials similar to the materials of the layers 1 10, 120 as described previously herein with reference to Figures IA, I B, 2, and 14. The

element 1504 has a length and width similar to that of spacer 1502. In alternative embodiments, the element 1504 can comprise multiple elements as described in any of Figures 1 -9, 13, and 14 or can comprise a single continuous element.

In an exemplary embodiment, the spacer 1502 can be coupled to the element 1504 along the long edge of spacer 1502 and the long edge of dement 1504 with thread, adhesive, or by any other suitable method. The spacer 1502 and element 1504 can be situated in a circular manner adjacent to the internal layer of the tire tread surface, such that the spacer 1502 is adjacent to the tire 160. The element 1504 and the spacer 1502 can be coupled to the tire by any suitable means, including, but not limited to, welding, threading, and gluing. In one exemplary embodiment, the element 1504 and the spacer 1502 can be molded to the inside of the tire 160 during manufacture of the tire 160. In an alternative embodiment, element 1504 and the spacer 1502 can be coupled to the sidewalls of the tire 160 and/or coupled to the wheel 140 (not shown). In yet another alternative embodiment, element 1504 and the spacer 1502 can be situated around the wheel 140 and adjacent to the tire 160 without being coupled to either the wheel 140 or the tire 160. In this embodiment, the element 1504 and the spacer 1502 are held in place be centrifugal force when a car on which the wheel 140 and tire 160 is mounted is put into motion. Additionally, the element 1504 and the spacer 1502 can be coupled to the tire by being compression fit into the tire 160 when the element 1504 and the spacer 1502 are slightly wider than the width of the tire 160.

In an alternative exemplary embodiment, the element 1504 can be glued or otherwise adhered to a surface of the spacer 1502 to couple the element 1504 and the spacer 1502 together.

When a car on which the wheel 140 and tire 160 is mounted is put into motion and the tire 160 and wheel 140 begin to rotate, centrifugal force forces the spacer 1502 and the element 1504 outward. The centrifugal force also compresses the spacer 1502 and forces the element 1504 against the spacer 1502 to create air cavities. As such, the flow- resistant barrier 1504 defines air cavities 1506 and 1510. The volume of air cavity 1506 comprises the volume between the wheel 140 and the flow resistant barrier 1504. The volume of air cavity 1510 comprises the volume between the flow resistant barrier 1504 and the tire 160. and thus comprises the volume of the spacer 1502.

In addition, when a car on which the wheel 140 and tire 160 is mounted is put into motion and the tire 160 and wheel 140 begin to rotate, the spacer 1502 decreases

the rolling resistance of the tire 160 by, for example, improving the tire to road contact. The spacer 1502 thus provides a flexible energy damper which lowers rolling resistance. Lowering rolling resistance improves fuel economy of the car on which the wheel 140 and tire 160 is mounted. Figure 16 is a cross-sectional view illustrating a tire noisf absorbing system

1600 comprising two spacers 1502, 1606 and two flow-resistant barriers 1504, 1608 according to an exemplary embodiment.

In an exemplary embodiment, elements 1502, 1606 comprise a spacer as described herein with reference to Figure 15. In an exemplary embodiment, elements 1504, 1608 comprise a flow-resistant barrier as described herein with reference to Figure 15.

The spacers 1502, 1606 and the flow-resistant barriers 1504, 1608 are arranged in alternating order. For example, as shown in Figure 16, a first spacer 1502 is situated adjacent to the inside of the tire 160, and a first flow-resistant barrier 1504 is situated adjacent to the first spacer 1502. A second spacer 1606 is situated adjacent to the first flow-resistant barrier 1504, and a second flow-resistant barrier 1608 is situated adjacent to the second spacer 1606.

As such, multiple air cav ities are created when a car on which the tire 160 and wheel 140 is mounted is put into motion. As shown in Figure 16, air cavity 1614 is a first air cavity. The volume of the first air cavity 1614 comprises the volume of the first spacer 1502. Air cavity 1612 is a second air cavity. The volume of the second air cavity 1612 comprises the volume of the second spacer 1606. Air cavity 1610 is a third air cavity. The volume of the third air cavity 1610 comprises the remaining volume between the wheel 140 and the second flow-resistant barrier 1608. The creation of multiple air cavities using additional flow-resistant barriers further dampens shock waves and reduces the associated tire noise. Three air cavities will fill more slowly than two air cavities, which will increase absorption of shock waves at lower frequencies. The increased time to pressurize the air cavities lowers the minimum operating frequency, which reduces tire noise. In addition, the multiple spacers 1502, 1606 can resonate at different frequencies when a car on which the tire 160 and wheel 140 is mounted is put into motion because they can have different dimensions and weights. As such, this embodiment of the invention can absorb various

resonances. By distributing absorption of the resonances between two or more spacers with different resonances, the system provides higher absorption of sound waves.

The spacers 1502, 1606 can be coupled to the flow-resistant barriers 1504, 1608 by any suitable method, as described herein. In addition, the spacers 1502, 1606 and/or the flow-resistant ban icrs 1504, 1608 can be coupled f c the tire 160 by any vi table method, as described herein with reference to Figure 15.

In an alternative embodiment, additional spacers 1502 and additional flow- resistant barriers 1504 can be used, arranged in an alternating formation as described previously herein. For example, a third spacer and a third flow-resistant barrier can be used, creating a fourth air cavity, the volume of the fourth air cavity comprising the volume of the third spacer. The multiple spacers 1502 can have different densities from one another, thus allowing greater resistance to centrifugal forces, as described herein above. For example, the following elements could be disposed in the following order, starting from the tire 160: a high density spacer 1502; a barrier 1504; a medium density spacer 1502; a barrier 1504; and a light density spacer 1502.

Figure 17 is a cross-sectional view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 1700 comprising two spacers 1502, 1702 and one flow-resistant barrier 1504 according to an exemplary embodiment.

In an exemplary embodiment, elements 1502, 1702 comprise a spacer as described herein with reference to Figure 15. In an exemplary embodiment, element 1504 comprise a flow-resistant barrier as described herein with reference to Figure 15.

The two spacers 1502, 1702 are arranged adjacent to each other and adjacent to the tire 160. The flow-resistant barrier 1504 is arranged adjacent to the spacers 1502, 1702. When a car on which the tire 160 and wheel 140 is mounted is put into motion, two air cavities are created, defined by the flow -resistant barrier 1504. A First air cavity is defined by the combined volumes of cavities 1708 and 1706. The volume of cavity 1708 comprises a volume of a first spacer 1502. The volume of cavity 1706 comprises a volume of a second spacer 1702. Because there is no barrier to resist air flow between cavities 1708 and 1706, the combined volume of cavities 1708 and 1706 forms a single first air cavity. A second air cavity 1704 comprises a volume equal to the remaining volume between the flow-resistant barrier 1504 and the wheel 140.

The combination of spacers 1502, 1702 creates a larger air cavity which can reduce tire noise. Further, the additional spacer can contribute to the reduction in rolling resistance when the car on which the tire 160 and wheel 140 is mounted is put into motion. The spacers 1502, 1702 can be coupled to the flow-r^istant barrier 1504 by any suitable method described herein. In addition, the spacers 1502, 1702 and/or the flow- resistant barrier 1504 can be coupled to the tire 160 by any suitable method described herein with reference to Figure 15. The spacers 1502, 1702 also can be glued or otherwise adhered to together. In an alternative embodiment, additional spacers and/or additional flow-resistant barriers can be used. For example, a third spacer can be situated between the spacer 1702 and flow-resistant barrier 1504, providing for additional volume in the air cavity created between flow resistant barrier 1504 and the tire 160. Additionally, alternating elements and spacers as described with reference to Figure 16 can be included with the system 1700.

Figure 18 is a cross-sectional view illustrating a tire noise absorbing system 1800 comprising one spacer 1502 and one flow-resistant barrier 1504 according to an exemplary embodiment. In an exemplary embodiment, element 1504 comprises a flow-resistant barrier as described herein with reference to Figure 15. The spacer 1502 is arranged at a distance from the internal layer of the tire tread surface and at a distance from the wheel 140, such that an air cavity 1808 exists between the tire 160 and the spacer 1502. In this embodiment, the spacer 1502 does not contact the internal layer of the tire tread surface. The flow- resistant barrier 1504 is arranged adjacent to the spacer 1502. When a car on which the tire 160 and wheel 140 is mounted is put into motion, two air cavities are created, defined by the flow-resistant barrier 1504. A first air cavity is defined by the combined volumes of cavities 1808 and 1806. The volume of cavity 1808 comprises a volume created by the distance between the spacer 1502 and the tire 160. The volume of cavity 1806 comprises a volume of the spacer 1502. Because there is no barrier to resist air flow between cavities 1808 and 1806, the combined volume of cavities 1808 and 1806 forms a single first air cavity. A second air cavity 1804 comprises a volume equal to the remaining volume between the flow-resistant barrier 1504 and the wheel 140.

The spacer 1502 can be coupled to the flow-resistant barrier 1504 by any suitable method described herein. In addition, the spacer 1502 and/or the flow-resistant barrier 1504 can be coupled to the tire 160 by any suitable method described herein with reference to Figure 15. In an alternative embodiment, additional spacers and/or additional flow-resistant barriers can be used. For example, a second spacer can be situated between the spacer 1502 and flow-resistant barrier 1504, providing for additional volume in the air cavity created between flow resistant barrier 1504 and the tire 160. Additionally, alternating elements and spacers as described with reference to Figure 16 can be included with the system 1800.

Jn yet a further embodiment (not shown), the systems 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800 can be arranged such that the spacers and/or flow-resistant barriers are coupled to the wheel instead of the tire. Alternatively, the systems of 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800 can be arranged such that the spacers and/or flow-resistant barriers are merely situated within the cavity created by the wheel 140 and the tire 160 and are held in place by centrifugal force.

As discussed herein, a tire noise reducing device can comprise continuous air flow-resistant layers of overlapped material with openings therein; a single flow-resistant and continuous layer without openings; multiple individual elements with overlapping and/or interlocking end portions; multiple discontinuous elements; two or more layers of elements that create multiple flow-resistant barriers; a single tubular element; a semicircular element; or multiple tubular elements.

In exemplary embodiments, small production runs for the material of the flow -resistant barriers described herein can comprise laser cutting the layers or individual elements to the specific wheel and tire dimensions. Large production runs can be die cut.

According to an exemplary embodiment, the tire noise absorbing systems described herein can absorb sound in the full audio band of about 15 Hz to about 20 kHz. Since some tire structures do not include noise in frequencies significantly above 800 Hz, the tire noise absorbing systems described herein also can absorb sound in a range of about 15 Hz to about 800 Hz. Additionally, varying the material of the flow- resistant barrier and the size of the cavity defined by the barrier can adjust the sound frequency absorbing characteristics of the systems to a desired range.

The tire noise absorbing systems according to the exemplary embodiments described herein can provide several benefits. For example, reducing internal tire energy can reduce tire structure hysteresis. This affect can increase tread adhesion by reducing the energy that causes tread contact bounce. Further, reducing hysteresis can reduce the tire temperature, which can allow a tire manufacturer to use tire compnupds with greater adhesion but lower maximum temperature. Reducing tire temperature also can extend the life of tires under racing conditions. For commercial applications, the reduction of temperature and the increase of adhesion can result in lower rolling resistance and greater tire life. This affect would result in significantly lower operating costs for applications such as heavy trucks and public transit. Each of these improvements can result in tire and automobile performance improvements.

The device increases tire life by absorbing energy inside the tire, thereby reducing contact bounce. This reduction increases adhesion of the tire to the road surface, which can reduce the scrubbing movement between the tire and road surface. Since scrubbing off rubber by adhesion slip is a large cause of tire wear, the tire noise absorbing systems can increase the dynamic performance and adhesion of a tire.

In addition, the device can reduce a tire's rolling resistance by providing a flexible energy damper disposed in contact with the internal surface of the tire ' s tread, which increases a tire's energy efficiency. As such, the device can reduce fuel consumption of the vehicle embodying the device. In addition, the spacer of the device can deflect the circular resonance.

In an alternative embodiment (not shown), the device can be mounted on both the rim 140 and the tire 160. For example, two devices, as described above with reference to Figures 15-18, can be mounted on each of the rim 140 and the tire 160. Each device could be a lightweight and/or small device. The combination of these two smaller or lighter weight devices can provide similar or superior sound reduction as compared with a single larger version of the same device. This alternative embodiment can thus provide for greater ease in mounting the tire 160 on the rim 140. As another example, each element in the devices of Figures 15-18 can be mounted on each of the rim 140 and the tire 160. For example, spacers 1502 can be mounted on the rim 140, while a barrier 1504 and/or spacer 1502 can be mounted on the tire 160.

In another alternative exemplary embodiment (not shown), one or more micro-perforated metal layers can be used instead of cloth layers. The metal layers can

be formed to have the desired shape around the circumference of the wheel 140. can be coupled to the wheel 140 or to a tire 160 mounted on the wheel 140, and can create an inner and outer air cavity 170. 180 between the tire 160 and the wheel 140. The perforations in the layers can restrict air flow between the outer and inner cavities 170, 180. thereby absorbing Iow-freqυ«*«cy energy of shock wave* transmitted between the outer and inner cavities 170, 180 and vice versa. Additionally, if multiple layers are used, the shock waves can cause the multiple layers to move relative to each other, thereby absorbing additional energy by converting friction energy into heat. According to an exemplary embodiment, the perforations on the metal layers can produce a porosity in the range of about 10% to about 50% cavity fill at cavity saturation.

In yet another alternative embodiment (not shown), a ridge element can be situated along the internal surface of the tire's tread from one side to another or in a circular manner. In an exemplary embodiment, the ridge element comprise a thin cord of rubber, or another suitable material and shape. The ridge element can be arranged in the shape of a sine wave (or sinusoid), alternating from side to side along the internal surface of the tire's tread. Alternatively, the ridge can be arranged in a zigzag pattern along the internal surface of the tire ' s tread, or in another suitable arrangement. When a car upon which the tire 160 is put into motion, the deflection of the tire 160 as it travels along a road creates a circular resonance. The ridge element can deflect this circular resonance into a flow resistant barrier, thus reducing tire wear. The ridge element can be used alone, or in combination with any of the embodiments described above with references to Figures 1-18.

Although specific embodiments have been described above in detail, the description is merely for purposes of illustration. Various modifications of, and equivalent steps corresponding to, the disclosed aspects of the exemplary embodiments, in addition to those described above, can be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention defined in the following claims, the scope of which is to be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass such modifications and equivalent structures.