It was during the 2003 Australian Grand Prix when Kimi Raikkonen came out of the pits after changing tyres and immediately spun off on the first corner that the original idea was spawned.
The ITV commentator, James Allen, asked if the crash was caused by cold tyres (tires), Martin Brundle agreed and James asked why, when teams had tyre blankets to keep them warm. Martin replied by saying that for some unknown reason blankets did not heat to the “core” of the tyre and therefore a driver should always be careful going into the first corner after taking on new tyres.
Stuart Hepworth, had lead a consortium a few years earlier to develop and market a microwave concept for destroying waste tyres by microwave energy, using a Pyrolysis system. This idea actually worked but it was too early for the political scene at that particular time and therefore the whole scheme was put on the back burner. Because Stuart had been asked to give a lecture on this concept the week before the Australian Grand Prix, the use of microwaves on tyres was very fresh in his mind.
If you can destroy a tyre by microwave energy, he thought listening the exchange between Brundle and Allen, then surely we can easily heat a tyre to it’s “core”! The microwave heating of racing car tyres was conceived!
Using world experts such as Gordon Andrews (Gamma) and Ralph Shute, Stuart quickly established that his basic idea would work and could even be protected by patents, the biggest hurdle being that the entire wheel had to be microwaved including the metal rim! Microwaves and metal do not mix and therefore to actually heat a tyre whilst on the rim – plus heating the rim as well, was a major obstacle!
Until the official stamp of the British Patent Office has been given, nothing was officially done on the project – but once it was received the concept was then announced to the motorsport industry and the rest is history.
The Black Frequency™ patented method of retaining the microwave heat within the tyre, was a natural progression from the franc system but was only really achieved by the superb expertise from Dr Amos Dexter and his team at Lancaster University.
By using both concepts, TYRE TECHNOLOGY has brought the heating of racing tyres into the 21st Century and now offers teams a complete TyreManagement Package.
Thorough testing by F1 teams, Dragsters, motor bikes, DTM and Les Mans Sports Cars, plus rigorous analysis by three tyre manufacturers gives the whole concept a superb pedigree.
The Engineering Department’s huge knowledge in this particular field of High Frequency was a huge help in developing and designing the system to work on a racing car.
During 2009 we have developed a totally new use for the system – “Heat Cycling” or “Electronic Scrubbing” – to replace the expensive and time consuming scrubbing of new competition tyres. The old fashioned method of doing this at the track is also very hit and miss, with the driver not knowing what temperature his tyres reach and the whole affair depending on weather and track conditions. By “zapping” new tyres with our system for a small fee at your local competition tyre supplier offer the same or even better benefits than scrubbing them the traditional way.
This Heat Cycling has also been tested on standard street performance tyres with the results showing all the benefits given to competition tyres are the same with street car/bike tyres. This of course opens up huge new potential for the concept.