Research Finds Scrap Tire Fiber Creates Stronger Concrete

University of British Columbia (UBC) engineers have developed a more resilient type of concrete incorporating recycled tire fiber material. The tire fiber concrete could be used for concrete buildings, roads, dams and bridges, researchers said.

According to researcher Obinna Onuaguluchi, a postdoctoral fellow in civil engineering at UBC, the team tested different parts of recycled tire fibers and other concrete-based materials like sand and water to find the “ideal mix,” which includes 0.35 percent tire fiber.

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Asphalt roads that incorporate recycled tire rubber are not new. The U.S., Germany, Spain, Brazil and China, are among the places that have rubberized asphalt pavements, researchers said.

However, using the polymer fibers from tires can potentially improve the resilience of concrete and extend its lifespan, UBC researchers said.

“Our lab tests showed that fiber-reinforced concrete reduces crack formation by more than 90 per cent compared to regular concrete,” Onuaguluchi said. “Concrete structures tend to develop cracks over time, but the polymer fibers are bridging the cracks as they form, helping protect the structure and making it last longer.”

UBC civil engineering professor Nemkumar Banthia, who supervised the work, says the environmental and industrial impact of the research is important in several ways.

“Many scrap tires are destined for landfill. Adding the fiber to concrete could shrink the tire industry’s carbon footprint and also reduce the construction industry’s emissions, since cement is a major source of greenhouse gases,” Banthia said.

“We use almost six billion cubic meters of concrete every year,” she said. “This fiber can be in every cubic meter of that concrete.”

The new concrete was used to resurface the steps in front of the McMillan building on UBC’s campus in May.

Banthia’s team is tracking its performance using sensors embedded in the concrete, looking at development of strain, cracking and other factors.

So far, the results support laboratory testing that showed it can significantly reduce cracking.

© Scrap Tire News, July 2017