The Tyre Collective, a British startup, is repurposing microplastic tyre-wear particles into functional and decorative items. Initially recognized for a car-mounted device that captures tyre wear particles, the company showcased its latest venture at this year’s Material Matters fair during the London Design Festival.
Collaborating with designers, 3D printing experts, and material scientists, the startup is addressing a major environmental concern: over a million tonnes of synthetic rubber particulate from tyres pollute Europe’s land and seas annually.
Madrid-based firm Lowpoly worked with The Tyre Collective to 3D print objects by blending recycled PLA with 20% tyre particles. The resulting pellet mix was used to fabricate objects such as vases, speakers, and lamps, each with a unique dark gray finish.
The Queen Mary University of London Materials for Sustainability Group participated by converting the rubber into a coin battery. Carbonized rubber slurry was coated onto copper foil to create this battery, which could potentially find applications in small electronics.
However, not all these novel materials are recyclable. For instance, the jewelry items and lamps created by mixing rubber with resin cannot be recycled. This limitation underscores the need for further research in material science to enhance the sustainability of these initiatives.
As efforts in material science advance, we can expect to see increasingly sustainable methods for managing tyre-derived microplastics. It’s a good job too, as the increase in EVs with their higher weight and higher torque output, will likely result in the production of even more tyre-wear particles.
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