Friday, April 19, 2024

Prototype device traps harmful microplastics from your tires while driving

A group of emerging designers from The Tyre Collective has created a prototype device that traps the microplastics that come off your vehicle tire when driving. Thanks to the device placed on the back of the vehicle tires, microplastics are prevented from polluting the environment, while these materials are recycled.

We all know that combustion cars pollute the environment through the exhaust pipe (tailpipe) emissions. But some may not know that car tires also affect the environment and human health.

Microplastic refers to any plastic particles less than five millimeters in size. On land, it pollutes the air as a part of PM2.5 dust fractions (dust finer than 2.5 microns) and is inhaled by living organisms, and in the ocean, it is swallowed by marine life and accumulates in food chains. Although the possible effect on human health is still unknown, these microplastics often contain additives and other toxic chemicals, which can be harmful to people.

The device is positioned close to where the tire meets the road.
The device is positioned close to where the tire meets the road.

At the same time, 28% of the primary microplastics entering the ocean comes from automobile tires in the process of erasing them. As we are moving towards the electric mobility future, the tailpipe emissions will reduce, but the tire wear is projected to increase due to the extra battery weight.

Aware of this, a group of British students, with the help of researchers from Imperial College London, has developed a device that traps the microplastics generated by these tires. And, apart from reducing the potential danger of these microparticles, they can reuse them to make new ones (tires).

These fragments are separated using simple techniques.
These fragments are separated using simple techniques.

The prototype device can be placed next to each of the four tires of a car, near where the tire touches the road. When the tire rolls, the flying rubber particles are electrostatically collected within the device’s storage unit. In turn, this unit is periodically removed and emptied, so that the fragments can be recycled.

According to The Tyre Collective, particles smaller than 50 microns can be used in the production of new car tires. Larger parts can be used in the production of 3D printing elements, soundproofing materials, inks, and dyes.

The prototype has already been tested in a laboratory, in conditions that mimicked a car driving on a highway, and, seeing that it works perfectly. Currently, the device can absorb 60% of all the released microplastic. The team of researchers is already considering starting to commercialize the technology as soon as possible.