A group of researchers from Ohio State University has found a way to use food waste – tomato peels and eggshells – in the car industry. The food waste would be used to fill rubber car tires.
The team has conducted plenty of tests on these food waste fillers for car tires. They found that they can be combined with other fillers made from carbon black, the traditional material used in manufacturing tires. Carbon black is a petroleum-based material which has become difficult to procure lately because petroleum is a dwindling global supply.
What are the benefits of using food waste?
This new research has plenty of benefits, according to Katrina Cornish, Biomaterials Endowed Chair at Ohio State University. For one, rubber products would become more sustainable. Also, the US would be less dependent on foreign oil, while on the food industry side of things, there would be less waste. Right now, food makes up about 20 percent of landfill waste, so that would be a vast improvement on space. Keeping us away for a while from the post-apocalyptic garbage nightmare we saw on Pixar’s film “Wall-E”. And not only that! Because space isn’t the only issue. Another concern is the output of methane from landfills. This greenhouse gas is produced when bacteria react with food.
The research was conducted by the team from Ohio State on food waste gathered from Ohio food producers. Eggshells were picked for their “porous microstructures that provide a larger surface area for contact with rubber”. Tomato peels, on the other hand, are more very stable at high temperatures. So the effects on the rubber were two-fold. The tire was strengthened, but it also maintained its flexibility.
Katrina Cornish has a patent pending for this method of food waste as filler for car tires. And this is just the beginning of possibly fascinating research concerning rubber and its possible replacements.
Different shades of tire
An interesting application of the food as filler method is the changing of the classic rubber color, from black to a brown-red color. The team from Ohio State is trying out different combinations of food waste to get plenty of shades, and not shades of grey. May we suggest Easter egg shells?
According to numbers from the USDA, eggs, and tomatoes are quite popular in the US. Americans consumed about 100 billion eggs last year, and 13 million tomatoes. But don’t start hoarding egg shells and tomato skins just yet, for the good of the environment! If this method were to be applied on a large scale, it would mostly use tomato skins removed in the process of canning tomatoes, and also eggshells cracked during mass production.