31 innovations

Plasma could turn old tyres into new

Blasting old tyres with super-hot gas offers a way to turn them backinto new ones, say UK researchers. This would tackle one of the world'sbiggest waste disposal problems.

David Isaac and colleagues at Swansea University, UK, have shown thatspinning ground-up tyres, called rubber "crumb", inside a chamberfilled with ionised oxygen gas plasma could provide a solution.

"It makes the surface of the crumb much better at sticking onto newrubber," Isaac explains. "Without treatment, the interface between theold pieces and new rubber is very weak."

Thetreated rubber particles can then be added to fresh non-vulcanisedrubber to make new tyres. Laboratory tests show that tyre rubberrecycled in this way has similar tensile strength and other mechanicalproperties to completely new material.

Source: newscientisttech.comAdded: 8 June 2007