University students have invented a way to capture harmful tyre dust - a major contributor to air and water pollution.
According to the UK government, the dust it emits is the second-largest microplastic pollutant in our oceans. Over a million tonnes of tyre particles are produced every year in Europe. The problem gets worse with the increased weight and torque of electric vehicles.
Chemicals released from tyres have even been linked to mass salmon deaths in Australia and the US.
Pollutants created by break and tyre wear will soon be added to the latest motor vehicle standards in the EU. But UK-based startup, The Tyre Collective has already been working on tackling the problem of tyre wear.
How are the tyre particles collected?
“Everyone who has watched an F1 race knows that tyres wear down but just never made that connection to think about where all these particles go and actually it’s a massive problem that needs to be addressed,” says co-founder of the Tyre Collective, Hanson Cheng.
The team has created a device which attaches to a car tyre. It uses electrostatics and the airflow of a spinning wheel to collect the tyre dust as it's produced. Once the particles are collected they can be upcycled into a kind of different kind of rubber that has a variety of applications.
Pollution from tyre wear could be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a car’s exhaust, Emissions Analytics has found. But this new device can remove up to 60 per cent of tyre wear particles on the roads.
Testing out award-winning technology
The Tyre Collective recently partnered with London logistics company Zhero to pilot the device for three months. The prototype successfully collected fine metal particles and tyre dust - over half was below 10 microns in size, the most harmful kind to human health and the environment.
It was a huge milestone for the startup which is planning a larger and longer trial of its technology later this year.
The invention was named one of the winners of the inaugural Terra Carta Design Lab competition last year. It also previously won the prestigious UK international design competition, the James Dyson Award in 2020.
Watch the video above to learn more about this project.