Students at Imperial College London have invented a device that attaches close to the wheels of a car and is claimed to collect up to 60% of airborne tyre particles before they enter the atmosphere.
The students, who call themselves the Tyre Collective, have produced a prototype, consisting of a module attached to the wheel that collects the particles, allowing them to be recycled while stopping them from polluting the air.
The device is positioned close to where the tyre touches the road, taking advantage of various airflows and the ‘Magnus effect’ of the spinning wheel. The particulates are gathered in a removable storage unit and once collected, these fragments are processed and can be reused, creating a closed-loop system.
The students believe these particles could be reused in other applications such as 3D printing and soundproofing.
They’ve even made business cards printed on ink that derived from the tyre dust.
Non-exhaust emissions (NEE) are expected to rise from 7.4% today to 10% of all UK PM2.5 emissions by 2030.
Last summer, the Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) warned that urgent action must be taken to reduce this number, especially with the growth of EVs, which are generally heavier than petrol or diesel cars which produces more emissions from the tyres.
The Tyre Collective is led by MSc and MA students; Deepak Mallya, Hanson Cheng, Hugo Richardson, and Siobhan Anderson alongside advisor Professor Robert Shorten in the Innovation Design Engineering programme at Imperial College London and Royal College of Art.
They’ve received Industrial Design Studentship funding from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to support the project.
A document produced by The Tyre Collective states: ‘Tyre wear and tear is the second-largest microplastic pollutant in our environment. As we move towards electric vehicles, tailpipe emissions will reduce but tyre emissions are projected to increase due to the added battery weight.
‘The future of vehicle pollution will not come from tailpipe emissions, but from tyres. The Tyre Collective aims to mitigate this invisible form of pollution by capturing them at the source, bringing the issue of tyre wear to the forefront.’
Read more about the project here.