New Device Collects Microplastics From Car Tires

Brilliant invention can capture tire dust and upcycle it.

Nov 4, 2020


New Device Collects Microplastics From Car Tires | Brilliant invention can capture tire dust and upcycle it.

A group of young British design engineers is reinventing the wheel, literally. Addressing the issue of microplastics caused by car tires, they have created a special device that collects plastic particles called tire dust. This one simple design could improve the quality of the air and water globally.

Most people know that cars are a big source of pollution via gas emissions. However, not many are aware that tires emit microplastic particles every time a vehicle accelerates, brakes, or turns a corner on the pavement. Now, thanks to the invention by four talented students, this pollution can be reduced. 

The Tyre Collective is a group of student designers from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art who won the first prize of the prestigious James Dyson award. This international competition celebrates, encourages, and inspires the next generation of design engineers.

According to The Guardian, the device they designed is placed on the wheel to collect microplastics emitted from tires through the use of electrostatics. The prototype alone collected around 60 percent of all airborne particles coming from tires, which means a significant reduction on the environmental impact. 

Research by Nature shows that 34 percent of tire wear particles and 34 percent of brake wear particles end up in the world’s oceans. This affects marine life, which in turn negatively impacts the fish we eat. Another report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature suggests that tire dust has become an even bigger source of marine plastic pollution than plastic waste in many developing countries.

Hugo Richardson, a design engineer from The Tyre Collective told The Guardian, “It’s common knowledge that tires wear down, but nobody seems to think about where it goes, and we were really shocked to discover that tire particles are the second-largest microplastic pollutant in our oceans. At the Tyre Collective, we incorporate sustainable and circular values into product design to capture tyre wear at the source.”

Their design cleverly takes the tire dust and upcycles it. After the particles are captured by the innovative device, the group has many practical uses for it. Ink can be created from tire dust, plus the microplastic particles can be used for 3D printing, soundproofing, and even the production of new tires, as written in The Guardian.

This device offers even more exciting possibilities as it provides real-time data on driving habits and environmental conditions, helping to calculate the rate of wear and how to improve it.

The Tyre Collective is an excellent example of how technology and innovative thinking can protect the environment from pollution without people having to give up the comfort and convenience that driving has to offer.

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With a love for fashion, technology, self-development, nature and communication, Daiana is a freelance writer. She is the creator of an online community platform dedicated to providing inspiration and information on trends, developments and positive impact initiatives in the world of Sustainable Fashion.