Rubber tires are almost impossible to dispose. Burning tires have serious effects on the environment, polluting the soil, water and air. Some countries even prohibited the burning of the synthetic tires, which proves the intensity of its damage.
Catalytic conversion of biomass-derived chemicals to renewable polymers occurs in laboratory stirred-tank reactors. (c) sciencedaily
It's the same reason this past decade, experts have been seeking for the best solution for the issue of the tire use. With what the researchers have recently found may end the long wait.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota
’s College of Science and Engineering and the Center for Sustainable Polymers believe they have uncovered the answer to the conundrum. They said they may use trees and grasses to create atypical tires.
“We study the conversion of biomass in a liquid phase reactors,” associate professor Paul Dauenhauer said in a statement.
Dauenhauer and his team developed a process to transform glucose into the chemical compounds used to make synthetic rubber. They created the process after several attempts, studies and trials at the Amundson Hall lab.
These new tires may help decrease the amount of pollution and waste from synthetic tires (c) La Voz Daily
“Anything that has glucose in it we can use to make these products,” he said. “Trees in the north, grasses, corn, anything with glucose will work.”
The team discovered the chemical process that transforms glucose in biomass found into the isoprene molecule essential to making the polymer for synthetic rubber. This breakthrough didn't happen overnight, it actually took them several years of research.
“The strategy we’ve taken is to treat biomass more like processing petroleum,” Dauenhauer said. “We use catalysts and high temperatures and it turns out to be a very effective way to make these molecules from natural resources.”
The study, published in the journal of the American Chemical Society, details how the team developed the new material. They said they made it from an ethanol plant, instead of an oil refinery.
"We hate you rubber tires!"
Dauenhauer said the material has the same color, shape and performance as synthetic rubber tires. Due to their groundbreaking work, the National Science Foundation provided a grant to extend the research.
When asked about when would the process escalate to industrial development, Dauenhauer says that “the fastest you could hope to see something like this is the next year or two.”
Now the University of Minnesota has been granted a patent on the process and will license it through the school’s Office of Technology Commercialization.