Turning old tyres into better irrigation systems
Summary: It seems unlikely that discarded tyres could help valuable crops grow but that is exactly what the work of two Geelong based joint high-tech manufacturing companies is making happen.....
Polymeric Powders and Austeng, are using end-of-life tyre crumb combined with polyolefin plastic, in a ‘world’s first’ process to manufacture a high quality composite material for the manufacture of high quality pipes for uses that include irrigation, drainage and sewerage.
Austeng and Polymeric Powders joined forces on the project, following a Geelong Council business development event, and with the help of Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), the two companies have been working on perfecting the manufacturing process that turns tyre crumb into a material for multiple uses.
Pipes made of the new composite material have very desirable properties, when compared to traditional plastics, including increased shock absorption, higher resistance to cracking, better thermal insulation and improved acoustic insulation.
The new pipes easily passed stringent standard performance tests that included cold bending and straightening and impact testing ranging in temperature from 0 to 50 degrees Celsius.
The new products offer the potential to develop new markets for tyre-derived material at both a national and international level. TSA as a, Federal and State Government supported - ACCC approved, industry cooperative program has a central interest in funding research and testing focussed on realising such commercial opportunities.
In addition the unique patented Polymeric Powders technology allows the recycled material to be used as a composite in a wide range of applications including in industrial tools and components, building and construction, mining, oil and gas industries, automotive and aerospace components, and for flexible electronics.
Another positive is that the new material can be utilised in traditional moulding and extrusion processes, offering opportunities for its use in the global injection moulded plastics market that is expected to reach US$252 billion in 2018 and it can be used in burgeoning 3D printing industry.
With the annual Australian used tyre volume in the vicinity of 56 million car tyres, TSA’s market development work, through its R&D fund, is helping innovative companies realise the potential to recycle a significant quantity of tyres. The R&D is also creating a new range of industries and manufacturing job opportunities, delivering both economic and environmental benefits.
Consumers can play their part by ensuring that they only purchase tyres from one of the over 1,300 TSA accredited retailers around the country. That will ensure that the whole community benefits from the work underway to sustainably manage Australia’s waste tyres.