The Netherlands – In partnership with the Dutch University of Groningen, Thai scientist Sitisaiyidah Saiwari of the University of Twente, also in the Netherlands, has developed a novel recycling method for end-of-life tyres. This breakthrough permits the salvaging of up to 40% of the discarded rubber for the manufacture of new tyres instead of the claimed current maximum of only 5%.
According to Saiwari and her research supervisor Dr Wilma Dierkes, the new recycling process will help towards a solution for the 800 million tyres generated annually throughout the world. ‘What happened before with used tyres is best described as cradle to grave, with tyres typically recycled into low-value products such as floor mats, soccer fields or traffic bumpers,’ Dr Dierkes states.
Saiwari’s method, on the other hand, relies on ‘reversing the vulcanisation process’, which ensures that polymer – the molecule providing rubber’s most critical properties – remains completely unaffected, thus making possible ‘high- quality reclaim’. The research project is ‘a big leap forward’, asserts Dr Dierkes. She says that Saiwari’s work is in line with the cradle-to-cradle vision pioneered by chemist Michael Braungart and architect William McDonough.
The already-patented research was funded by Dutch implementing body RecyBEM.
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