Researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered that food waste can partially replace the petroleum-based (carbon black) filler that is conventionally used in manufacturing tires. About 30 percent of a typical automobile tire is carbon black. It makes the rubber durable, and its cost varies with petroleum prices.
The rubber the researchers made used fillers such as tomato skin and eggshells. In tests, this rubber exceeds industrial standards for performance. This may ultimately open up new applications for rubber. The technology reduces dependence on foreign oil and keeps waste out of landfills.
Commercial tomatoes are bred to grow thick, fibrous skins so that they can survive being packed and transported long distances. When food companies want to make a product such as tomato sauce, they peel and discard the skin. Tomato peels are highly stable at high temperatures and can also be used to generate material with good performance.
The researchers found that eggshells have porous microstructures that provide larger surface area for contact with the rubber. This combination of tomato skin and eggshells give rubber-based materials unusual properties.
Conventional fillers make rubber stronger, but they also make it less flexible. However, replacing different portions of carbon black with ground eggshells and tomato peels made rubber stronger and retained the flexibility.”
The university has licensed the patent-pending technology to EnergyEne, for further development.