New tire recycling technology could alleviate burden on environment
Deakin University's Institute for Technology Research and Innovation partnered with VR TEK Global to create the revolutionary process. Currently, the method for handling old tires relies on either shredding and burying them in landfills, burning them or recycling them into low-quality materials that don't have much use.
“Our process does not rely on chemicals and uses less power—making it more environmentally friendly. It also results in high quality ingredients that can replace virgin and synthetic rubbers in the manufacture of products such as new tyres [sic], car parts, insulation materials, conveyor belts and asphalt additive for roads,” Deakin research engineer Chris Skourtis told the news source.
About 1 billion tires each year are discarded worldwide, most of which end up in landfills. These tires are known to allow harmful chemicals to seep into the environment, as well as cause fires and provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes and rats.
The new way of recycling tires involves a mechanical method which reverses the chemical process used to create them, transforming the materials into recyclable rubber powder. Prior to this innovation, the method used to reverse the chemical process involved harmful chemicals.
The researchers have also developed a way to use ozone gas to make the rubber powder more easily compatible with other materials. The technology is expected to go into commercial operation in 2012, and hopefully other countries will pick up on the trend and eliminate the need for tires to take up space and create environmental problems in landfills.