Placing Waste Where Rubber Meets the Roadadmin
Researchers at Ohio State University are reengineering the tire with a few unexpected substances – eggshells and tomato peels. According to Popular Science, these food waste items make “excellent filler for rubber tires, with tests showing they exceed the industrial standard for performance. Filler is combined with rubber to make the rubber composite used in tires.” This approach could not only reduce US dependence on foreign oil and the amount of food waste in landfills but could also make the production of tires more sustainable. Finding a way to keep food waste out of landfills helps to conserve space, but also helps cut down on greenhouse gasses created when bacteria chow down on the food and yard trimmings and expel methane.
“If we hit a real shortfall in carbon black [a petroleum-based filler used in tire manufacturing] we’ll have to use something else,” Katrina Cornish of Ohio State University said. “You could use some nice eggshells. Many companies would like to have a green position and this is a good way to do that.” Cornish has been working on developing new sources of rubber since she came to Ohio State in 2010. She and her colleague’s research has appeared in a number of journals including the Journal of Polymers and the Environment. Ohio State has also licensed the technology Cornish developed for turning food waste into tire filler to EnergyEne for further development.