This breakthrough permits the salvaging of up to 40% of the discarded rubber for the manufacture of new tyres
In partnership with the Dutch University of Groningen, Thai scientist Sitisaiyidah Saiwari of the University of Twente, also in the Netherlands, has developed a novel recycling method for end-of-life tyres. This breakthrough permits the salvaging of up to 40% of the discarded rubber for the manufacture of new tyres instead of the claimed current maximum of only 5%.
According to Saiwari and her research supervisor Dr Wilma Dierkes, the new recycling process will help towards a solution for the 800 million tyres generated annually throughout the world. ‘What happened before with used tyres is best described as cradle to grave, with tyres typically recycled into low-value products such as floor mats, soccer fields or traffic bumpers,’ Dr Dierkes states.
Saiwari’s method, on the other hand, relies on ‘reversing the vulcanisation process’, which ensures that polymer – the molecule providing rubber’s most critical properties – remains completely unaffected, thus making possible ‘high- quality reclaim’. The research project is ‘a big leap forward’, asserts Dr Dierkes. She says that Saiwari’s work is in line with the cradle-to-cradle vision pioneered by chemist Michael Braungart and architect William McDonough.
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