Tyres may be a key beneficiary of research conducted by a team of chemists from MIT and Duke University in the USA who claim to have discovered a “counterintuitive way to make polymers stronger.” The talk is not only of increasing tyre lifespan, but also of reducing microplastic emissions.
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According to a new report undertaken by Eunomia Research and Consulting for Friends of the Earth, up to 19,000 tonnes of microplastic pollution could be entering UK waterways every year from vehicle tyres. The report, titled Reducing Household Contributions to Marine Plastic Pollution, listed tyres in its ‘top ten’ list of items of concern, commenting that interventions and innovation, as well as governmental, business and scientific collaboration, may be required over the coming five years to solve the issue.
Tyres aren’t part of the food chain and they certainly don’t belong in our air and water. Even the powers that be realise this and the government says it will work to combat the problem. The how and with whom of this was outlined in the draft Clean Air Strategy 2018 document released by Environment Secretary Michael Gove on 22 May.
On 8 January, the UNECE's World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations endorsed a proposal outlining two methodologies for assessing tyre abrasion within the framework of UN Regulation No. 117. The proposal adopted by the Working Party on Noise and Tyres entails measuring the reduction in tyre weight caused by abrasion, with results quantified in milligrams per kilometre per tonne of load on the tyre.
In the midst of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, UAE, Enso called on COP28 leaders to phase out fossil fuels, and for a complete decarbonization of the global tyre industry. During Transport Day at COP28, Enso said it will phase out fossil fuels in the industry by decarbonizing its entire supply chain by 2030 – a figure the company claims is “two decades ahead of mainstream tyre manufacturers”. Enso also suggested the tyre industry is not addressing…problems [such as particulate emissions and microplastics] quickly enough.
Although the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders indicates that battery electrics will hold a 17.8% new car market share by the end of 2023, vehicles powered from the socket remain the subject of lively debate and sensational headlines. Tyres aren’t exempt from such discourse, as the Daily Mail made clear in July when maligning these as the “dirty secret behind your electric vehicles.” To bring some common sense back into the EV tyre conversation, Michelin has shared its views on the subject.
Two Nexen concept tyres, the Conqueror and Pureback, have been named finalists at the 2022 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) in the United States. These tyres were developed through a joint industry-academic collaboration with design students, Nexen Tire and The Korea Design Membership Plus (KDM+). Nexen says the partners’ focus was to create concept tyres that “can combat tough climate conditions and environmental challenges.”
The Audi Environmental Foundation has developed filters for urban runoff in conjunction with the Technical University of Berlin. They prevent tyre wear particles and other substances from being washed into sewers and bodies of water along with rainwater. Initial field and lab tests have now demonstrated the efficiency of the UrbanFilter project.
Dr Linda Mitchell has joined Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) as the organisation’s first science and innovation advisor. TSA calls this appointment “another step forward in advancing Australia’s competitiveness in managing its own tyre waste stream and unlocking opportunities for the national economy.”
The University of Plymouth published government-funded research into what happens to particles released from vehicle tyres back in May. This comparatively recent report – as far as academic research is concerned – was launched with no-small media fanfare amid claims that tyres “could be a significant and previously largely unrecorded source of microplastics in the marine environment”. Be that as it may, the research also highlighted a number of significant knowledge gaps in this field of research.
Tyre Recovery Association members have called a new proposal to ban the use of tyre-derived rubber infill in sports surfaces as “incomprehensible and counter-intuitive”. The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) wants to ban the reuse of materials containing ‘intentionally added’ microplastics such as tyres from 2028. The TRA estimates that in the course of their service lives, car tyres alone shed some half a million tonnes of micronized rubber annually across the continent of Europe.
Studies show the tyre/road abrasion caused by vehicles in motion contributes to microplastic and fine dust pollution, making this an issue our industry will increasingly have to consider in future. ZF Test Systems believes its new unit for testing tyre abrasion will enable tyre manufacturers to optimise their development programmes and offer cleaner tyres.
In mid-November, the Green Party in the EU Parliament put out a statement on twitter saying: “tyres release more than 500,000 tonnes of microplastics into the environment?”. Stating that this means it is “time to reinvent the wheel”, the green party added: “Yesterday [13 November] we fought hard and we managed to convince the EU to label tyre abrasion in order to tackle plastic pollution”. With this in mind, Tyres & Accessories asked ETRMA what the pan-European tyre industry is adding to the discussion.
Particulate and plastic pollution from brakes, tyres and road wear are in the spotlight again. The Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) released a new report today that highlights the impact of this pollution, and the UK Government reports that Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey and Transport Minister Michael Ellis are “leading a push” to tackle its impact. The aim is for the introduction of an international standard that covers tyre and brake wear.
Murfitts Industries has supplied a football pitch made from recycled tyres for Spanish champions FC Barcelona. The pitch material, called PRO-gran, is being used across four continents since its launch in 2017. The artificial grass is said to ‘last a lifetime’ and is compliant with strict chemical legislation (REACH).