New tyre design to tackle microplastic pollution

In a bid to reduce the level of microplastics entering the atmosphere, researchers have developed a new tyre to clean up cars, and commutes.

Microplastics have long-been considered one of the most problematic forms of pollution, with particles of less than 5mm impacting air quality, water supplies, animal and plant species, and proving incredibly difficult to remove from the environment due to their small size.

The average tyre will lose 4kg of microplastics during its lifespan, with 85% of all microplastics identified as caused by tyre wear and tear. In response to this issue, Cheolhee Lee, Seongjong Kang, and Lee JH96 have designed the Pureback, a new tyre system that significantly reduces the level of microplastics allowed to escape into the environment.

gray multi spoke wheel with tire

This is achieved with a relatively simple approach, using the inlet between treads to separate and discharge microplastics, effectively turning the grips into storage for waste material. These can then be emptied at a safe facility, with drivers notified when a tyre is approaching capacity through an in-car LED display. 

‘Pureback proposes a small change in shape and structure within the area of the existing tyre,’ a spokesperson from the design team explained.

‘If the collected microplastics are compressed and delivered to a hydrogen charging station, the corresponding rewards, hydrogen mileage, and hydrogen charging benefits, are provided to users, so that everything from automobiles to tyres to hydrogen charging can be suggested as a service model,’ they continued. 

In related news, microplastics have been found to cause significant air pollution according to a 2021 study. Particles from vehicle tyres are also considered a significant source of marine pollution


Image credit:  Mathias P.R. Reding


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