The current (inter-) national road infrastructure is of great social-economic importance for the current and future society. The daily use of this infractructure has however some drawbacks with respect to quality of life (e.g. noise nuisance, particulate matter, toxic emissions), safety aspects (e.g. road construction, accidents) and sustainability (e.g. mainentance, recycling). The numbers of the above mentioned aspects speak for themselves. In the Netherlands only, passenger cars produce 25 million tons of carbon dioxide and more than 6000 cubic meter of rubber particulate matter. Besides, more than 3 million people suffer from sleep disorders, leading to health problems ranging from high blood pressure to heart and vascular diseases.

The amount of sound pollution, wear of tire and road, rolling resistance and skid resistance (grip) largely depend on the properties and geometries of the tire and road and their interaction. The controversy is that aspects regarding safety, sustainability and livability can not be optimized independently; in general one can state that optimization of one aspect leads to a deterioration of the other aspects. Besides, it is crystal clear that tires and road pavement cannot be fully optimized separately. For example, a reduction of the rolling resistance (lower CO2 emission) can easily lead to a reduction in skid resistance, and thus lead to unsafe situations. A smooth road surface leads to noise abatement, again at the cost of reduction in wet skid resistance. Besides, when optimizing a tire or a road, one has to focus on the total system: a wear resistant tire (reduction of rubber particulate matter) can easily lead to more road wear (increase of asphalt particulate matter, increase in road maintenance).

Worldwide research is done to improve tire performance and to develop new innovative road pavements. However, these branches of research do not work together. In the tire industry, one uses an ISO standard road as boundary condition, where in pavement research, an ISO tire is used as boundary condition. For a better performance of both research domains, problems should be tackled in an integral way, i.e. one should focus on tire-road interaction. For tire –road interaction, the tires, road pavement and contact surface should be accounted for and analyzed in a coupled way. Expertise in the following fields is required to acquire relevant analyses:

  • Mechanical behavior of rubber;
  • Mechanical behavior of road pavement;
  • Accurate contact description between tire and road surface;
  • Dynamics of tire and road pavement and radiated noise.

At the University of Twente, various research groups bundled their expertise in the Tire-Road Consortium to guarantee an efficient and effective platform for this integral approach. The group ETE brings expertise in the field of tires, the group CME has expertise in the field of road pavement, the group MSM brings expertise in the field of multi scale numerical modeling, the group STT brings expertise in the field of contact, friction and wear, and finally, the group SDA brings expertise in the field of dynamics and acoustics.