Researchers at Ohio State University developing plan that could mean your next set of car tires. From variety of food scraps like tomatoes and egg shells.
Katrina Cornish, a biomaterials researcher at Ohio State who’s spent years. Trying to find alternative rubber sources produced right here in the U.S.. Cornish has created a method for turning locally sourced food waste into carbon black.
Manufacturers have made rubber tires with a petroleum-based filler. That filler called carbon black makes the rubber durable. Because its cost fluctuates with the price of oil, it can be quite pricey. Add to that increased global demand for tires, a dwindling surplus of carbon black. The potential harm rubber creates for the environment and you have, well, a recipe for a potentially big problem.
Moreover, her patent-pending discovery that tomato peels and eggshells may be viable replacements for carbon black just might crack the tire manufacturing industry wide open.
Tons of Eggs more cracked mistakenly in commercial factories
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat more than half a billion eggs each year. Tons more cracked mistakenly in commercial factories. The eggshells rounded up and drag to landfills. The mineral composition keeps them from breaking down.
Tomatoes are an equally popular dietary staple Americans eat more than 13 million tons (11.75 million metric tons) of the fruit annually. Mostly processed as sauces or other products. Often, all that’s left are the tomatoes’ thick rubbery skins that bred to withstand tight packing and interstate hauls from farms to supermarkets but not the human digestive system.
However, Cornish found black gold for the tire industry. Eggshells and the skins from commercially grown tomatoes, her team discovered, make rubber stronger and more flexible. The tomato peels remain stable at high temperatures, while eggshells have a porous makeup that provides larger surface area for contact with the rubber.
Furthermore, researchers now are looking for ways to add color to the materials. Unlike carbon black, the food waste filler is reddish brown, based on the amount of eggshell or tomato used in it. And they’re continuing to develop the patent-pending technology, which the university has licensed to Cornish’s company EnergyEne.