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A new method for turning food waste into rubber tires

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Scientists have developed a way to convert your uneaten lunch into the tires for the car you drove to the restaurant. Researchers from ‘The Ohio State University’ have discovered a method to convert food waste into a replacement for the petroleum-based filler that has been used in manufacturing tires for more than 100 years.

In tests rubber made with the new fillers exceeded industrial standards for performance, which may ultimately open the door for new applications for rubber.

Katrina Cornish, an Ohio Research Scholar and Endowed Chair in Biomaterials at Ohio State, said the technology has the potential to make the manufacture of rubber products more sustainable, reduce American dependence on foreign oil and keep waste out of landfills.

Approximately 30 percent of a typical automobile tire is carbon black, which makes the rubber durable. Also, according to Cornish carbon black is becoming more scarce.

To create new tire fillers, researchers bought eggshells and other food waste from a local food producer and transformed them into non-black biofillers that can be an alternative to traditional fillers used in tires.

In lab tests, researchers have found that porous microstructures of the eggshells can provide larger surface area for contact with the rubber and give rubber-based products unusual properties. Tomato peels, on the other hand, are highly stable at high temperatures and can customize the performance properties of rubber, providing more options for tire production.

“We’re not suggesting that we collect the eggshells from your breakfast,” Cornish said. “We’re going right to the biggest source.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans consume nearly 100 billion eggs each year.

Cindy Barrera, a postdoctoral researcher in Cornish’s lab, discovered that eggshells have porous microstructures that provide larger surface area for contact with the rubber and give rubber-based materials unusual properties. However, Barrera found that tomato peels are highly stable at high temperatures and can be used to generate material with good performance.

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