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The Tyre Recycling R&D project is funded by the INNPACTO programme of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness

UPC researchers, in collaboration with the companies COMSA and GMN, create a new material from textile fibres of old tyres

Lluís Gil and Xavier Cañavate, researchers and professors at the Terrassa School of Industrial, Aerospace and Audiovisual Engineering (ESEIAAT) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), in collaboration with the companies COMSA and Gestión Medioambiental de Neumáticos (GMN), have created a new material from textile fibres of used tyres. This product incorporates a tyre component that was previously not reused.

Vehicle tyres are essentially made of three materials: latex, fabric and steel fibres. The only thing that could not be reused up to now was the fabric, which ended up in landfills or incinerators.

Lluís Gil, of the Laboratory for Technological Innovation in Structures and Materials (LITEM), and Xavier Cañavate, of the POLQUITEX research group, both on the UPC's Terrassa Campus, in collaboration with the companies COMSA and GMN, have developed a new textile material from disused tires. Professor Teresa Vidal, of the UPC's Paper Engineering Research Group (CELBIOTECH), also participated in the project.

Recycling and competitiveness
One of the strengths of the project is that it adapts the final product to customer requirements and supplies it in the form of sacks or panels. After several tests, the key to obtaining the new material was the combination of three components: fibres, recycled paper pulp and white glue. The new material has proven to be very effective in the construction sector and for railway projects because it is a good insulator.

According to Lluís Gil, “this new material is technically equivalent to the rock wool and glass wool materials previously used for thermal and acoustic insulation of buildings, but it is cheaper”.

Xavier Cañavate says “our material can reuse millions of tons of fibres that were previously sent to landfills at the end of the tyres' life, thus saving energy and CO2 emissions. It also incorporates recycled paper pulp, which is very difficult to reuse”.

The new material was created thanks to the participation of the companies COMSA and GMN and funding of €130,000 from the INNPACTO programme of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. In addition, the project has generated eight bachelor's theses and a master's thesis.

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