Green tires, eggs and tomatoes
Researcher at the University of Ohio, Katrina Cornish is replacing the carbon black in tires with tomato peels and eggshells.
By partly replacing the carbon black in the gum, eggshells and tomato peels help make greener tires.There’s nothing new about trying to make greener tires. But using food waste - instead of oil – is! And that’s what two American researchers in the laboratory of Ohio State University of Columbus, Katrina Cornish and Cindy Barrera have done. The chemists have developed a patent-pending technology that could give us a greener and more environmentally friendly tire.
How? By partly replacing the carbon black in the gum - 25-30% of the composition of a tire - with tomato peels and eggshells. Carbon black is a basic form of carbon found in soot that acts as a rubber-reinforcing agent. Alternative but effective ingredients, eggshells have a porous microstructure that provides greater contact with the rubber, and because the tomato peels are very stable at high temperatures they make the elastomer stronger.
Then there is just the question of color. Because carbon black gives the rubber a dark color, it protects the tire from UV and splitting. The biochemists are therefore testing combinations that will add color and anti-UV properties to their formula.
As far as supply is concerned, they will simply recover the waste at source - from food processing plants! It’s an abundant resource since, according to the US Department of Agriculture, the country produces 102 billion eggs a year, half of which are processed in food processing plants that have to pay the cost of sending the shells to landfill. In addition, every year 13 million metric tonnes of tomatoes (USDA source) are eaten in the United States. Ohio State University is encouraging Katrina Cornish to continue her research and has even given her permission to envisage commercially developing her innovation through EnergyEne.
Tires from the farm as well as the factory
According to data provided by Michelin, one of the world leaders in the sector, although more than 200 different materials go into each tire the resulting complex still largely depends on oil.
Rubber consists of elastomers (natural rubber and hydrocarbon-based synthetic rubber), plasticizers (resins, oils), chemical elements (sulfur) and reinforcing fillers, in the form of silica or carbon black. Working to optimize the strength and wear of tires with organic reinforcing agents based on tomato peels and egg shells would therefore have several advantages: more sustainable rubber manufacturing, reuse of food waste currently sent to landfill and, finally, less dependence on oil.
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