Researchers from the University of Singapore are converting the scrap tire waste from discarded tires into an aerogel for different applications.

To develop the aerogel, researchers took the rubber fibers from car tires, blended them into finer fibers and mixed them in a solution of water and chemical cross-linkers. The solution was then uniformly dispersed and freeze-dried at -50° C for an estimated 12 to 13 hours, forming the aerogel.

The result, according to developers, is a lightweight, flexible, extremely absorbent, durable aerogel that is capable of trapping both sound and heat, making it ideal for various applications such as in the design of automobiles to reduce noise or oil spill management, for instance.

Such a development could mean diverting scrap tire waste from landfills all over the world. Currently, discarded non-biodegradable tires number in the billions with some being recycled and turned into low value products while others are incinerated to produce heat and the rest are landfilled.

Tire scrap is proving to be a valuable material for a host of applications including construction, fortifying concrete, and in transportation, strengthening asphalt on roads and for light railway construction use cases.

The research appears in the journal Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects.

To see the process for turning scrap tire into an aerogel, watch the accompanying video that appears courtesy of the University of Singapore.

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