Ooster, Ohio, USA — Tomorrow’s tires could come from the farm as much as the factory. Researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered that food waste can partially replace the petroleum-based filler that has been used in manufacturing tires for more than a century. In tests, rubber made with the new fillers exceeds industrial standards for performance, which may ultimately open up new applications for rubber.
As Katrina Cornish explains it, the technology has the potential to solve three problems: It makes the manufacture of rubber products more sustainable, reduces American dependence on foreign oil and keeps waste out of landfills. Cornish, an Ohio Research Scholar and Endowed Chair in Biomaterials at Ohio State, now has a patent-pending method for turning eggshells and tomato peels into viable – and locally sourced – replacements for carbon black, a petroleum-based filler that American companies often purchase from overseas.
“The tire industry is growing very quickly, and we don’t just need more natural rubber, we need more filler, too,” she explained. “The number of tires being produced worldwide is going up all the time, so countries are using all the carbon black they can make. There’s no longer a surplus, so we can’t just buy some from Russia to make up the difference like we used to. At the same time we need to have more sustainability.”
Cindy Barrera, a postdoctoral researcher in Cornish’s lab, found that tillers generally make rubber stronger, but they also make it less flexible: “We found that replacing different portions of carbon black with ground eggshells and tomato peels caused synergistic effects – for instance, enabling strong rubber to retain flexibility. We may find that we can pursue many applications that were not possible before with natural rubber.” Cornish added.
Source: The Ohio State University