Electric vehicles on our roads are growing exponentially. Cost reduction and the need for individual transport are the main causes. In the next 5 or 6 years I bans on traditional petrol and diesel vehicles they will design a whole new future.
However, zero-emission vehicles aren't entirely green, and that's where The Tire Collective comes into play. Even if 100% of cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles were electric or hydrogen, the problem of microplastic pollution of tires would still remain.
A pollution caused by friction that occurs due to friction whenever a driver has to brake, accelerate or make a bend.
Microplastic pollution of tires
The microplastic particles of the tires are dispersed in the air, and represent
up to 50% of PM2,5 pollution caused by road transport. A disaster that can damage lungs and other organs.
Many particles are transported in rivers and oceans, affect ecosystems and, ultimately, our own food chain, causing further health problems.
After single-use plastics, tire wear is the second largest microplastic pollutant in our oceans.
Some practical examples
To understand what volumes we are talking about, a large bus releases about 4,65 g (0,17 ounces) of microplastics from the tires per journey, and 65 grams (2,3 ounces) per day.
In Europe, microplastic pollution of tires is 530.000 tons per year. In the US, on the other hand, it is estimated that 1,8 million tons of microplastics are produced from tires every year. It is the highest quantity in the world.
Research from the Dutch Open University estimates that microplastics in tires are responsible for 130.000-300.000 deaths worldwide.
With electricity, emissions could increase
Despite their green calling, electric vehicles could increase PM2,5 emissions from tires due to the weight of the battery. British government figures suggest an increase in PM2,5 emissions by up to 25% by 2030.
Given the scale of the problem, a group of students from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art founded “The Tire Collective”. This is a new startup that aims to make cities healthier by reducing tire wear emissions.
The Tire Collective, an all star against emissions
The four-person team combined their expertise in different areas of engineering and design to create an innovative device, which this year won the prestigious Design Award Dyson Award.
“As a team, our strength lies in our diversity,” he explains Hugo Richardson, co-founder. “We come from all four corners of the globe and bring a wealth of knowledge in mechanical engineering, product design, architecture and biomechanics.
“Tires are known to wear out, but nobody seems to think about where they end up. We were really shocked to find that tire particles are the second largest microplastic pollutant in our oceans. At the Tire Collective, we want to capture microplastics from tires directly at the source ”.
A “sweeper” device that captures microplastics from tires directly behind the wheels.
The prototype made by The Tire Collective exploits the properties of electrostatics and the flow of air around a wheel. It is currently capable of capture 60% of microplastic particles from tires.
Material that can be reused for new tires or materials, creating a closed loop system. The team demonstrated this by printing their business cards with ink made from dust collected from the tires.
The Tire Collective aims to bring people from different disciplines and sectors together, creating a global network of partnerships and collaborations.