Rubber is a difficult material to recycle. For the most part it just sits in a landfill while only forty percent of it gets recycled. This is terrible for the environment. Tires are large and take over fifty years to biodegrade. Every six years we add more tires to the landfills when our tire wear out. If an individual is spending around sixty years driving, then they would have gone through around forty two tire in their lifetime.
NUS Engineering has found a way to recycle that endless pile of rubber by turning it into aerogels. The light weight material has numerous applications giving new life to those old tires. By blending the used tires into smaller fibers, they can then soak it in water for twenty minutes. The solution is then freeze-dried to minus fifty degrees Celsius for twelve hours. During the freeze-drying process the mixture is suspended in a gelatin like structure.
Aerogels have plenty of applications. They’re a lightweight porous substance that can insulate a wide range of temperatures. The lack of thermal conductivity is due to the gasses inability to have a free path in the gel like structure. Unlike other aerogels, the rubber mixture version is more sponge like making it great for cleaning up oil spills. The NUS Engineering’s version of aerogels can also absorb sound waves as well.
For the cost of ten dollars and about twelve hours of labor, that old worn-down rubber tire can be reused. With the large cumbersome tires out of the landfills, we will have less contaminates bleeding into nearby water ways. It’s would be a huge step towards a more sustainable world. Once implemented, we would only have to worry about plastics that take thousands of years to biodegrade. But, one pollution problem at a time
For more information on rubber aerogels check out NUS NEWS
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