Stacked tiresIt takes a lot of resources to build a new car.

Traditional auto recycling helps a great deal by salvaging everything that can be salvaged from old cars, but that isn’t the only way that car manufacturers can use recycled materials. A research team at Ohio State University has recently discovered a way to recycle eggshells and tomato peels. Their new method can reduce the petroleum products that manufacturers need to create tires, which has the potential to significantly reduce the industry’s resource usage.

Using Eggshells To Make Tires

The biological waste is recycled to produce tires, but the researchers haven’t come up with a new source of rubber. Instead, they use the tomato peels and eggshells to create a replacement for carbon black.

The new substance is not precisely equivalent to carbon black, but that is not a bad thing. Testing has revealed that the new substitute offers some advantages over the traditional material. In particular, it is significantly more flexible. The strength of the rubber usually decreases as it becomes more flexible, but that is not the case when the new substitute is used in the mix. That might open up new applications for rubber in the auto industry, but it can already be used to produce excellent tires.

What Is Carbon Black?

It’s impossible to understand the significance of this discovery without understanding the nature of carbon black. It is a filler that gets added to rubber products, such as tires, in order to make them stronger. It is made primarily out of petroleum, which means that its production has a significant impact on the environment. Carbon black makes up slightly less than a third of the average tire, so recycling biological waste to produce it has the potential to lead to significant savings on both economic and environmental costs.

How Does It Help?

This innovation is likely to have a significant impact on the environment when it comes into common use. The world’s supply of petroleum is limited, and anything that can reduce the auto industry’s dependence on it can conserve more of the supply for other purposes. It also reduces the need to harvest more petroleum from the world’s reserves. The reduced demand for petroleum products will ensure that fewer extraction sites are created in the upcoming years. Since the extraction process can be highly polluting and dangerous for the environment, this recycling process can safeguard the world’s natural places. The impact of the change will not make a massive impact on the world’s total petroleum use, but every little bit helps, especially in the long run.

The use of egg shells is also good for the environment. The food industry cracks a huge number of eggs every year, and the shells are wasted. The factories send them off to landfills in huge numbers. The shells decay very slowly under those circumstances, which contributes to the ever-expanding sprawl of landfills that are consuming valuable wilderness space all over the world. Tomato peels decay relatively quickly, so their use does not carry a similar benefit, but it does save food companies from going to the effort of shipping them to the landfill in the first place.

The new substitute for carbon black will also have a positive economic impact for many nations. Most tire factories need to import their carbon black from a relatively small number of producers. That adds to the environmental cost due to the fuel used in the shipping process, but it also drives up the price. The new method can draw on local materials in most cases. Those materials are cheaper both because egg shells and tomato peels are waste products and because they will not need to be shipped over long distances to reach the factory.

Long-Term Benefits

It’s important to remember that the demand for tires is growing as cars become more common in the developing world. This development already has the potential to conserve valuable resources and prevent pollution in the developed world. The advantages will only increase as it spreads to the tire industry in developing nations. The benefits of recycling also compound over time as more resources are saved, so it’s safe to say that the benefits will continue to grow for many years to come.