New trial turning recycled rubber into concrete

New trial turning recycled rubber into concrete

Rubber recycling could see end-of-life tyres repurposed into concrete for residential constructions, with new research from the University of South Australia showing it can be an alternative to conventional concrete.

Working with RMIT University, researchers have shown that crumb rubber concrete is a safe, green alternative for residential construction in Australia. The product also creates a new market for the end-of-life tyres.

As part of the research, two residential slabs (one with crumb rubber concrete and the other with conventional concrete) were poured at the University of South Australia’s Mawson Lakes campus in October 2018. These slabs were monitored for more than two years, with the crumb rubber proving to be a viable solution.

Globally, approximately 1.5 billion vehicle tyres are discarded each year. Less than one per cent of these are reused, with the rest being unaccounted for or dumped in landfills. In Australia about 51 million tyres end up in landfills, stockpiles or dumped on mine sites.

Co-researcher Dr Osama Youssf says that accumulation of end-of-life tyres is a global and growing problem for the global environment.

“Rubber tyres are not biodegradable and lead to unstable landfills, breeding grounds for mosquitoes from trapped water, polluted surfaces and toxic groundwater,” Youssf said.

“In Australia, two thirds of tyres end up in landfill. Such continuous waste production and disposal is entirely unsustainable, which is why we have been investigating alternative recycling options.”

Co-researcher UniSA’s Professor Yan Zhuge says that this research shows just how suitable crumb rubber concrete is for residential constructions.

“The results clearly show that crumb rubber cement is a viable and promising alternative to conventional concrete in the residential concrete market,” Zhuge said.

“We strongly recommend that the concrete industry considers crumb rubber concrete as a sustainable alternative to conventional concrete in reinforced residential constructions in Australia.”

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