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SCRAP TIRE RECYCLING: CONVINCING BUSINESSES TO INTEGRATE INEXPENSIVE, CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY TO CONVERT TIRES INTO VARIOUS CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS
Scrap tires cause serious environmental pollution and health problems. Although worldwide figures are imprecise, it is known that one-fourth of the 283 million tires scrapped in the United States were landfilled last year. Hundreds of millions more tires are annually discarded to landfills in other countries, consuming a staggering amount of land space, creating a high risk for large toxic fires, breeding mosquitoes that spread mortal diseases, and wasting the planet's natural resources. This situation cannot be sustained.
This proposal will bring two already-proven technological solutions into the business arena so that tire recycling will become economically feasible. These two proven technologies are a patented non-cryogenic pulverization technology, solid-state shear extrusion (SSSE), and a newly developed particle modification technology. Both were developed at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). The SSSE process is capable of producing fine rubber particles at a far lower cost than competing cryogenic pulverization processes. The new particle modification technology enhances the properties of the rubber particles produced by the SSSE process and enables them to be used in high "value-added" applications such as low volatile organic compounds (VOC) paint coatings, waterborne sport surfacing, and near-zero VOC powder coatings. Together, these technologies could result in a dramatic reduction of tires sent to landfills. Recycled rubber materials would be turned into environmentally benign polymeric coatings, inexpensive constructional materials, and other products for use in both developed and developing nations.
Funding is requested to develop, test and refine a strategy to integrate these two proven technologies into the business world. The strategy will be planned and executed by a multidisciplinary team of IIT students in engineering, science, business and architecture working under close faculty supervision. Materials will be prepared to create samples. Based on sample testing, test marketing analysis, and evaluation an optimal business model will be designed.
This work will be carried out as part of IIT’s Interprofessional Projects Program (IPRO). The IPRO program, a hallmark of IIT, brings together students of different disciplines to solve real-world challenges. This proposal will equip an IPRO team with supplies and equipment to achieve the project described above. If the goal is achieved, this tire recycling IPRO project will become a model in the curriculum for future generations of students, demonstrating a successful effort by a multidisciplinary team working together to solve an environmental problem of planetary significance.