0628ctt recycled tires lo res

[Image above] Credit: Michael R; Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It’s no wonder that researchers have made countless, widely varied attempts to make concrete more environmentally friendly—it’s one of the most widely used building materials implemented across the globe, but it’s also a material with a notoriously large carbon footprint.

For example, some researchers have literally made concrete green to make it more “green.”

Others have experimented with new designs that use less material or more natural reinforcement materials.

No matter what the strategy, however, the fact is that there’s still room to go in reducing the environmental impact of our construction materials.

Scientists at the University of British Colombia (Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada) have a new strategy that just might be going somewhere—they’ve devised a technique to incorporate recycled rubber tire fibers into concrete to reuse the waste material, improve the durability of concrete, and reduced the carbon footprint of the concrete industry.

“Our lab tests showed that fiber-reinforced concrete reduces crack formation by more than 90% compared to regular concrete,” Obinna Onuaguluchi, a postdoctoral fellow in civil engineering at UBC, says in a UBC press release. “Concrete structures tend to develop cracks over time, but the polymer fibers are bridging the cracks as they form, helping protect the structure and making it last longer.”

Cement, sand, and scrap rubber fibres. Credit: Clare Kieran; UBC

Experimenting with differing amounts of tire fibers, the team showed that incorporating 0.35% tire fibers had an optimal effect of the concrete’s strength and durability by reducing its plastic shrinkage, which causes cracks to form in concrete, according to the paper’s abstract.

The researchers say the tire-fiber-reinforced concrete can be used for concrete in buildings, roads, dams, and bridges—basically anywhere concrete is already put to use.

“We use almost six billion cubic meters of concrete every year,” UBC civil engineering professor Nemy Banthia adds in the release. “This fiber can be in every cubic meter of that concrete.”

Watch the short video below for more details of this interesting research.

The paper, published in Materials and Structures, is “Durability performance of polymeric scrap tire fibers and its reinforced cement mortar” (DOI: 10.1617/s11527-017-1025-7).

Credit: ubcpublicaffairs; YouTube