News, Recycling

Rubber concrete sparks interest in SA research

Written by Danaya Malenda


Revolutionary new research from the University of South Australia has discovered a novel approach to rubber recycling that could see end-of-life tyres repurposed into concrete for residential constructions.

Lead researcher Julie Mills said that this is the first research in the field to practically demonstrate and construct the new crumb rubber concrete mix.

Showing that crumb rubber concrete is a safe, green alternative for residential construction in Australia, providing for a much-needed recycling solution for end-of-life tyres.

About 51 million tyres ended up in landfills, stockpiles or dumped on mine sites between 2013 and 2014 in Australia.

Approximately 1.5 billion vehicle tyres are discarded every year, globally.

Working with RMIT University, the University of South Australia researchers showed that this discovery can provide an economically viable and sustainable alternative to using conventional concrete.

Valuable natural resources can be conserved by repurposing end-of-life tyres into concrete, and the current tyre landfill conundrum can be partly solved.

In 2021, the world’s largest tyre-dumping site (comprising 50 million tyres) caught fire outside of the capital of Kuwait, spewing toxic pollutants into the air.

Co-researcher Osama Youssf said that the accumulation of discarded tyres is a global and burgeoning problem for the environment all around the world.

“Rubber tyres are not biodegradable and lead to unstable landfills, breeding grounds for mosquitoes from trapped water, polluted surfaces and toxic groundwater. They pose a significant risk for toxic fires,” Youssf said.

“In Australia, two thirds of tyres end up in landfill. Such continuous waste production and disposal is entirely unsustainable, which is why we have been investigating alternative recycling options.

“We found that reinforced crumb rubber concrete (with up to 20 per cent sand replacement by volume) is superior to conventional concrete in some ways, with higher impact resistance, toughness and ductility, a higher damping ratio, better thermal and acoustic insulation, and a lighter weight.”

Professor Yan Zhuge from University of South Australia and co-researcher on the study, said that they were able to show just how suitable crumb rubber concrete is for residential homes.

“This is an exciting development for both the recycling and construction industry,” Prof Zhuge said.

“We strongly recommend that the concrete industry considers crumb rubber concrete as a sustainable alternative to conventional concrete in reinforced residential constructions in Australia.”

Send this to a friend