Researchers have developed a fast, cost-effective way to convert discarded car tires into ultra-light aerogels with a wide range of applications.
About 1 billion rubber tires are produced annually in the world, which are very durable and practically non-biodegradable. At the same time, 49% of them are burned to generate energy, about 11% end up in landfills and only 40% are recycled with minimal profit. In the process of their incineration and burial, toxic substances are released that pollute the environment..
Scientists from the National University of Singapore recently proposed an environmentally friendly way of recycling waste rubber into expensive aerogels. To do this, first, the used car tires were crushed into thinner fibers, which were soaked for a short time.. in water with the addition of a small amount of chemical solvents. The mixture was dispersed using a stirrer for 20 minutes, and then a homogeneous suspension gel by freezing at a temperature of -50. °C for 12 hours to obtain a rubber airgel.
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The entire process takes up to 13 hours and can be easily scaled up to mass production. Manufactured thus aerogels durable and very lightweight but stiffer than styrofoam. Due to their porosity, they have good absorption, heat and sound insulation properties. When coated with methoxytrimethylsilane these aerogels become more water-repellent and can be used for waterproofing and as an anti-corrosion coating.
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Scientists have begun collaborating with technology to commercialize new processing methods and have already received $ 155,000 to continue research, improve material characteristics, and create aerogels from other types of waste..
We also previously reported on the invention plastic waste rocket motor.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo and video: National University of Singapore