Innovation That Matters

Rubber from used tyres adds a number of useful properties to concrete | Photo source Robert Laursoo on Unsplash

Tyres added to concrete reduce landfill and provide construction benefits

Property & Construction

The reinforced concrete is lighter weight and easier to clean

Spotted: Alternative concretes are becoming more available and varied, producing less waste. From seashells to sequestered carbon, the materials incorporated into new versions of concrete and asphalt are helping to slowly reduce the construction industry’s carbon footprint. New research from the University of South Australia shows that so far, after two years of observation, a residential concrete slab made of a crumb rubber mix is performing as well as a traditional concrete slab.  

Rather than adding to the millions of tyres that go to landfill every year, shredding the rubber and using it as an ingredient in concrete could provide a range of construction benefits. From buildings to roads, crumb rubber concrete provides a more flexible and durable product. The flexibility is particularly useful in climates with temperatures that encompass freezing and thawing, thereby reducing the likelihood of cracks. The long-term result is a reduction in maintenance costs and time.

And when rubber is used in sidewalks, the walking surface becomes much less slippery, which improves the general safety of public spaces. Pre-poured, modular concrete pieces can also make repair work easier, with individual pieces being removable, removing the need to rip apart entire walls or roads in order to access piping.

The main drawback to rubberised concrete is that strength decreases as the volume of rubber in the mix increases. Architects and builders can compensate for this change in a variety of ways, and researchers point to the environmental danger of tyre fires and the millions of tyres discarded globally each year as reasons to accelerate the development and use of the new mix of concrete.

Other recent concrete innovations spotted by Springwise include a recycled concrete mix that stores carbon, a vaulted floor design that reduces concrete use, and an eco-friendly concrete that protects vulnerable shorelines.

Written by: Keely Khoury

Email: Julie.Mills@unisa.edu.au

Website: unisa.edu.au

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