Recycled Tires Can Improve Concrete Structure Resilience

  March 1, 2019

By Naomi Millán

Recycling old tires for use in concrete structures can help make the structures more resilient in case of fire, according to research from the University of Sheffield.

Adding polypropylene fibers to concrete structures has been shown to reduce spalling in the event of a fire. This occurs because the plastic melts, leaving a network of microflues that let the water in the concrete weep out rather than explode. This has become an established practice in modern buildings.

The study found that recycled polypropylene extracted from the reinforcement layer embedded into tires does the job just as well as virgin polypropylene. Using recycled polypropylene could cut down on the energy and resources required to produce fire-resistant concrete structures, according to researchers. The results of the study were published in the February issue of the journal Fire Technology.

Earlier research at the university also found that incorporating other components of used tires, such as the rubber, into concrete can improve earthquake resistance, allowing it to flex 40 times more than conventional concrete.

Naomi Millán is senior editor of Building Operating Management.


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