Coconut Shells Could Help Reduce Road Noise and Combat Driver Fatigue

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Published on
March 7, 2023

Manchester-based company Carbon Air has developed a new technology that uses activated carbon to combat driver fatigue in commercial vehicles and reduce road noise from car tyres.

By altering the behavior of air under pressure, the micropores within the activated carbon adsorb air molecules to its surface, effectively "storing" large amounts of gas that form a film on the solid surface area. This leads to a dramatic change in the pressure curve, allowing the suspension to behave as if it has a larger volume without impacting the charge pressure or ride height.

Carbon Air's activated carbon technology significantly reduces the "bobbing" movement of the seat, making for a smoother and more comfortable ride, which can help reduce driver discomfort and nausea during long trips. In addition to improving driver comfort, the technology also benefits cabin designers by allowing the same volume of air to be stored in a smaller chamber, freeing up valuable packaging space in driver cabins.

John Coakley, the Chief Technology Officer of Carbon Air, said: "We have seen great results in the lab, and we are confident that drivers will feel the difference." With its potential to significantly reduce driver fatigue and improve comfort, the company's activated carbon technology could be a game-changer for the commercial vehicle industry.

Carbon Air's technology is not limited to driver comfort. The company has also created a patented method of applying coconut shell-derived activated carbon to the wheel rim to significantly lower the resonance produced in the wheel cavity, reducing the road noise from car tyres. This new technology benefits both internal combustion engine vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs) and can reduce the peak tyre cavity resonance by 15 dB during laboratory testing, noted at a frequency slightly above 200 Hz, which corresponds to the typical frequency of a tyre rolling over tarmac.

Carbon Air's solution stays on the wheel rim for the duration of the car, rather than just until the tyres need to be replaced, making it more cost-effective and durable. The company is already in advanced discussions with wheel suppliers and vehicle manufacturers to introduce this technology in forthcoming products.

Activated carbon is traditionally used for gas and liquid filtration and is widely used in the water treatment and food industries. Carbon Air's pioneering use of the material to moderate the mechanical behavior of air has opened up numerous technical opportunities for the technology. The company has already successfully introduced its technology to automotive air suspension systems on premium variants of the Audi A6 and A7 and has launched its commercially available activated carbon insert for mountain bike air suspension forks in 2022. Carbon Air is also at the advanced stages of developing numerous acoustic applications.

The use of activated carbon, which is formed by subjecting organic carbon matter such as coconut shells, coal and sawdust to super-heated steam and chemicals, has opened up new possibilities for enhancing the performance of various products and reducing the negative impact on the environment. With Carbon Air's innovative technology, commercial vehicle drivers can now enjoy a more comfortable ride, while the general public can experience less road noise, making journeys more enjoyable for everyone.

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