Old or damaged tires are the major source of waste and concern for environmentalists. As per Environmental Protection Agency, America alone discards approximately 300 millions of waste tires annually. Such a huge volume of waste, which is extremely durable, is difficult to manage. The discarded tires are also not very suitable for landfills and often illegally dumped tires turn into breeding grounds for germ carrying mosquitoes and rodents. Piles of tires if caught fire can cause air and ground pollution. Therefore, it is required to recycle the discarded tires in an eco-friendly way.
So far discarded tires were recycled and putting them in use while manufacturing new shoe products and on basketball courts. But, material that is generally recovered from discarded and ground up tires, also known as crumb is not used in large amounts.
However, now experts like Magdy Abdelrahman who is an associate professor at North Dakota State University, is studying to make use of waste tires in construction of improved roads. His work is being funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Rubberized Road Material
The study employs crumb rubber and other components to create a rubberized road material to enhance aging asphalt. The researcher mix crumb with various materials, in varying proportions and under different conditions in order to derive the best possible way of adding rubber to asphalt and making it durable. They found that ground rubber that are produced by the waste tires when combined with asphalt can result in road surface that can last longer and requires less road maintenance.
Highways in Arizona and California have been already constructed using asphalt rubber technology. This new emerging market of asphalt rubber is making use of nearly 220 million pounds of waste tires. Other states such as Texas, Nebraska, New York, South Carolina and New Mexico are also studying and planning the use of rubber asphalt in their future highway projects.
Impact of Additives
Abdelrahman is also examining the physical and chemical qualities of material that is produced by mixing crumb rubber and asphalt with certain selected additives. And trying to analyze the impact of bad weather on the recycled material. Whether under such conditions any chemical are released from the recycled material and does that have any adverse effect on the soil or groundwater. He said that the asphalt rubber does not possess any threat of polluting soil or ground water, however, research is required to check the impact of additives added to this mixture, if in case it gets leaked under certain situation.
Though the rubberized road is a proven technology, still Abdelrahman wants to further improve the technology and ensuring it to be completely environmentally safe.
The new technology is definitely going to make our journey smoother, in the future. Apart from this, the technology also answers for the waste management and recycling of one of the largest waste which if not tackled can cause havoc to our environment.