Curbing Car Tyre Pollution

Ever wondered where all the rubber ends up as your car tyres wear out?

Every time a vehicle brakes, accelerates or turns a corner, the tyres wear down through friction and tiny particles become airborne. This produces around 500,000 tonnes of tyre particles annually in Europe alone. Globally, it is estimated tyre wear accounts for nearly half of road transport particulate emissions. It is also the second-largest microplastic pollutant in the oceans after single-use plastic. So, it's a serious issue.


Happily, a clever device that captures microplastic particles from tyres as they are produced - and could help reduce the pollution they cause - has been invented by four students, winning its designers a James Dyson award.


The Tyre Collective, a group of masters students from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, scooped the UK prize of the international competition with their solution for the growing environmental scourge of tyre degradation.


The device is fitted to the wheel and uses electrostatics to collect particles as they are emitted from the tyres, utlising the air flow around a spinning wheel. The prototype, which the designers believe is a world-first, collected two thirds of the airborne particles from tyres under a controlled environment on a test rig. Once captured, the fragments can be recycled and reused in new tyres or other materials, raising hope that tyres could one day become 'fully circular' (from an environmental perspective!)


The James Dyson Award is now in its 16th year and operates in 27 countries. It's open to university students and recent graduates studying product design, industrial design and engineering. It recognises and rewards imaginative design solutions to global problems with the environment in mind.


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