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Recycled Tires Could Filter Water 112

MattSparkes writes "According to New Scientist, water could be cleansed and filtered more easily and cheaply by using old tires. From the article: 'Rubber tires, the kind that lie at the bottom of rivers and at the back of junkyards the world over, could be ideal water filters says an environmental engineer at Penn State University in the US.'"
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Recycled Tires Could Filter Water

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  • More Information (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:31PM (#16955534) Journal
    Here's a picture [] of the process that Yuefeng Xie set up at PSU.

    Note that on his homepage under news [] he has "A patent "Method of Using Waste Tires As A Filter Media" was issued to me on November 29, 2005. With 40% of royalties to the inventor (other 60% goes to Penn State), I am going to be a rich professor very soon."

    Which reveals he applied for this patent [] on Aug. 26, 1999.

    A lot of the material I can find online makes it look as though he's been working on this for six years, he was just waiting for the patent to to be granted []. It seems now they just have to verify tha the water that is processed doesn't leach out any harmful toxins or heavy metals (as the article states). A side note is that he only has one other patent [] aside from this one.

    Despite his plans to become rich over this, I hope he is very successful as a lot of countries (both 3rd and 1st world) could stand to benefit from this greatly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thansal ( 999464 )
      also from that page

      My book, Disinfection Byproducts in Drinking Water: Formation, analysis, and control was published by Lewis Publishers. Based on a recent calculation, the payment I received for writing the book is very close to what my son got from Taco Bell based on a hourly rate. And you can buy this book from Wal-Mart online! By the way, don't expect a cheap book here. With 5% off, it is still $142.45 for 176 pages.

      Well, I hope his new endevor goes better then his last one did (monitarily that i

    • No more cheap tires for third world countries...
  • Ew (Score:3, Funny)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:32PM (#16955572) Homepage Journal
    do you really want to drink water that tastes like old tire?
    • Re:Ew (Score:4, Funny)

      by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:39PM (#16955706) Homepage
      Does it imply it tastes better with new tires?

    • You have apparently never tasted the water in Las Vegas. BLECH!!!
    • No. I also don't want to drink water filled with PAH's polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons leached from carbon black or even mined anthracite, nor DOP (dioctyl phtalate) and other processing aid oils, nor the myriad of funky vulcanization accelerators, all leaking at ppb levels slowly into my body, and then everyone wonders why breast cancer rates are so high. (I'm not a woman, but some of this technology just doesn't sound right.) My preferance is mountain dark rock filtered water, where the water doesn't flo
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:34PM (#16955602)
    • Did you read the whole artical about fort lauderdale? At any point it didn't raise any issues about toxity of the tires but the fact that sea life(algy plants and other things) would not grow on the tires and looked relativly the same as the day they were dropped. The other issue was that tires were rolling around the bottom making it impossible for sea creatures to make their home their as well. So the area could support life still but the tires make it impossible. Once the tires are removed it seems th
  • by brennanw ( 5761 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:34PM (#16955606) Homepage Journal
    I was under the impression that for the last 10-15 years at least they stopped making tires out of rubber. A 10 year old tire is pretty old for a tire.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Forget about Zagat's Michelin food guide, this time Zagat, Chairman Kaga, and Iron Chefs will taste test water filtered by Bridgestone/Firestone, BFGoodrich, Goodyear, generic retreads, and of course, Michelins.
  • like tires as reef? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:36PM (#16955662) Homepage Journal

    There was a case where someone had the bright idea of dumping tires over a huge area of open sea, to offer marine habitat. Years and years later, the barnacles and coral organisms haven't adopted this habitat, because the tide keeps pushing the tires around, unlike heavier debris. It's an eco-disaster, worse than nothing, essentially.

    They're finally getting around to hauling them up, but volunteer effort can only go after a few tires at a time, with tens of thousands or millions of tires to go. Maybe if there was a clear use for all the tires, they could get some funds to lift the old "reef" up and use it for a different, and this time beneficial, marine-related purpose.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by inviolet ( 797804 )

      There was a case where someone had the bright idea of dumping tires over a huge area of open sea, to offer marine habitat. Years and years later, the barnacles and coral organisms haven't adopted this habitat, because the tide keeps pushing the tires around, unlike heavier debris. It's an eco-disaster, worse than nothing, essentially.

      It is still a good idea. That particular project failed because the metal clips -- the things that hold the tires together as a reef -- rusted away.

      Yes, you read that right:

      • Let me guess: it was "budget constraints" that led to using something unsuitable that ruined the project. Decent idea, but it isn't quite affordable enough so they makes cuts to fit in into the budget, making the project financially feasible but guaranteeing the overall failure off the project. Seems like something straight out of a Dilbert comic.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, I saw a news bit about that a few weeks ago. The problem wasn't so much that they moved around at first, it was that reefs won't grow in them for whatever reason. Once the restraining clips rusted away and no reef had formed, the tires themselves were nearly neutrally boyant and are scattered all over the place. An experimental clearing of several hundred square meters of ocean floor resulted in the ocean bottom being covered with tires again within a few months.

      The big plan now is for the US Navy
      • I don't think water filtration is the proper disposal place. Just the fact that reefs didn't find them tasty enough makes me believe it was leaching chemicals at biocide levels, and it still is, very slowly. Perhaps the best use for it would be griding it up and putting it into asphalt as a filler - it would make a very great use for that. Another more expensive method would be to dry them up, then pyrolyze them away for some fuel/petrochemicals. If it pyrolyzes into propene or ethylene, then it might be ea
    • Why don't they just wait until the rubber breaks dow---oh, right.

      - RG>
    • by Kancept ( 737976 )
      But hey, none of the replies to this looked at the bright side. This is a perfect solution for places you want to keep the reef back from- ie. keep it from growing. Dunno why one would want that, but still.
      • by Kancept ( 737976 )
        got it... like keeping them away frow those wave generators that are gonna produce power for us in a few years. lace the area around the wave inlets with tires and it'll be that much less maintenance...
  • Also, (Score:3, Funny)

    by justkarl ( 775856 ) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:38PM (#16955684) Homepage
    From a billboard in Fight Club(movie):

    "You can use recycled motor oil to fertilize your lawn!"
  • Firestone tires may have a functional use after all!
  • by jimlintott ( 317783 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:40PM (#16955724) Homepage
    My first concern is that I am quite allergic to cyclohexylthiophthalimide (CTP) a chemical used in vulcanizing rubber. Yes, I am allergic to car tires. Makes me very, very ill. While I don't get sick in normal traffic I get sick at the drag races from the burnouts and I can't spend more than 30 minutes in a tire shop.

    Whether water filtered through tires would bother me or not I don't know but it should be checked into first.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Politburo ( 640618 )
      I'd advise you to email the professor with this concern.
    • by diersing ( 679767 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @04:13PM (#16956330)
      There we go again, caving to the cyclohexylthiopthalimide-phobic lobby. Honestly people, this here tire-filtration system is the best thing we got going, are we really going to abandon it for something that affects 10%^H^H^H 1% ^H, this guy?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Yeah, I can see it now:

        Deer Park marketing guy #1: "Nobody is actually allergic to this kind of stuff, right?"

        Deer Park marketing guy #2: "Well, there was this one guy on Slashdot who claimed he was, but I bet it was just a lie."

        Deer Park marketing guy #1: "We should put a warning label on our bottles just to make sure he doesn't sue us. How about - 'Warning, this delicious and refreshing drink you are about to enjoy may contain water filtered using Recycled Tires, and may contain traces of cyclohe
    • by jo7hs2 ( 884069 )
      Seriously, Advise the professor about this via a letter or e-mail. Allergies are an oft-overlooked issue. I'm sure he'd rather find out about it now and test for it, then find out about it via lawsuit because the filters didn't have a warning, etc...
    • This is probably not a problem. Water is filtered to different standards, depending on what is going to happen to it. There is a much more rigorous filtering of water that will be reintroduced to the drinking water supply than water used for irrigation only (which is expressly marked as non-potable) or water that is just going to be flushed out to sea as waste.

      Allergens are one of many things they worry about in water for drinking.
    • Water filtering does not have to be just for drinking. For instance, all sort of chemicals make their way onto road surfaces. Then rain water carries those chemicals into local watersheds.

      I think I read once that the Autobahn had a special semi-porous drainage layer made of some compound material.

      I have no expertise, but maybe new roads -instead of just having standard runoffs- could be slanted to lead to passive filtration surfaces that would partially clean the water. And maybe ground-up old tires co

      • There are impermeable asphalt roads all over the world, of course. Think of all the drainage pipes in Manhattan that just empty into its rivers. Maybe there is some clever way with old tires filter that water passively.

        I'm wondering if there isn't some way to use that sort of filtering as a good base for roads made from the old tires themselves. []

        The tires that run on the road become the roads and filter water as an added bonus.
    • by Zaatxe ( 939368 )
      My first concern is that I am quite allergic to cyclohexylthiophthalimide (CTP) a chemical used in vulcanizing rubber.

      And I thought that I, being allergic to eggplant, had an unusual allergy...
      • by GeckoX ( 259575 )
        That's not that strange, I'm mildly allergic to it myself, along with cantaloupe, honeydew and other similar fruits. Don't know exactly what it is, never bothered to check it out in detail as it's merely an irritant to me so I simply avoid these foods for the most part...every once in a while though I'll trade off some minor discomfort for some delicious moussaka or a good fruit salad with some melon in it.
      • by Dabido ( 802599 )
        I'm allergic to beer ... and I'm an Aussie. What a national disgrace I am! :-)
  • pay tire disposal fee to costco!

    • by bunco ( 1432 )
      Like hell you won't. You'll pay a "recycling fee". Costco will then punt the used tires for additional profit.
  • Other Uses (Score:5, Informative)

    by quanminoan ( 812306 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:48PM (#16955882)
    Waste tires can be recycled and used in lots of ways, though this one is particularly interesting. Tires actually have a fuel value and energy density greater than coal, and the slag left over can be used in construction materials and concrete. The crumb rubber the article mentions is actually somewhat difficult to take out of the tire, you generally cryogenically freeze the tire then hammer at it - this separates the crumb rubber from the fibers within the tire. The recycled rubber isn't the kind of rubber you'd use in everyday life without treatment, so it's used in things like rubber mats and in highway construction.

    Crumb rubber has found uses in sewage plants as a filler material to bulk up the sewage, replacing the tons of wood chips that would normally have to be discarded. In places with erosion problems burying tires make excellent barriers combined with terracing techniques. There have also been programs to make artificial reefs with tires, making great fish habitats (if done properly that is). I read an article on using the 2" chips as mulch for blueberry plants. Some companies are playing with pyrolysis as well - getting a good deal of oil from the tires by heating them under an oxygen free and high pressure environment.

    There's really no limit to what you can do with waste tires. If this method works well I'm sure some countries could benefit, though I don't know how well the filters work. I can't imagine them removing arsenic or bacteria, but possibly they could condition the water so that a better filter could last longer? The article was a little vague on details - anyone provide some insight to this end?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by JonathanR ( 852748 )
      Car tyres are used in cement clinker manufacuture. At a plant I did some work at, they have a conveyor that drops whole tyres into the top end of the rotary clinker kiln. The steel belts and beads in the tyres contribute to the iron requirements of the clinker, and of course the rubber is burned for fuel value.
    • There's really no limit to what you can do with waste tires.
      In my neck of the woods there are great mountains of waste tires churning out mousiquitos in record numbers. Just wish someone found one of the limitless ways of doing something with waste tires and actually did it.
    • "There's really no limit to what you can do with waste tires"

      Indeed, I think it was Euclid who devised the first proof of this- Something like:
      1. Take any existing known use for the tires.
      2. Combine it with any other known use.
      3. ??? (Possibly "Nooo! I mean on the internet").
      4. Profit!!! You have created a new use!
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @04:32PM (#16956630)
      We use it in Arizona, though not at much as we should, and it's awesome. Even if there weren't the benefits of getting rid of old tires it's still great stuff. It offers a much quieter ride but the real winner is that it deals with thermal expansion real well. The desert has massive temperature deltas, it can be 70 degrees in a day or more, every day. Because of that and the extreme heat, roads wear out fast. However the rubberized asphalt stands up to it quite well.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Rubberized asphalt was the first thing that came to mind when I read this article. I saw something on TV several years ago about it, and I liked what I saw. Solves many problems. Unfortunately, a problem that it solves, longer lasting roads, is exactly why it isn't adopted more. DOTs across the country wouldn't touch the stuff with a 10' pole, because it'd cause them to cut their budget.

        Any idea if rubberized asphalt is used elsewhere? Is it unfavorable in more humid areas of the country like the Midwest? C
      • "Come take a road trip to Arizona--where the rubber meets...the rubber!"

        - RG>
    • There have also been programs to make artificial reefs with tires, making great fish habitats (if done properly that is).

      Yes, indeed. Tire reefs do have to be done properly. I heard an interesting story about a month ago on National Public Radio about an artificial reef off the coast of Florida. Apparently the thing consists of over a million old tires and the geniuses who constructed it back in the 1960s used steel chains to tie bunches of them together. Over the years, the chains corroded and broke

    • There was a lot of talk a few months ago about how Florida is now trying to clean up millions [] of tires that were dumped off the coast in 1972 in order to create reefs. Perhaps there is some way to use tires to make good reefs, but this certainly is not. Stuff like this shows that what might seems like a good use for trash may come back as an ever bigger problem years latter.
    • Saw this on 'The New Inventors' program here in Oz where it won last year's prize for best invention. I was amazed at the amount of oil that can come out of a tire, as well as the steel, fibre and rubber: []
  • Duh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Naughty Bob ( 1004174 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:50PM (#16955934)
    That's *why* we chuck them in the river....
  • Don't drink and drive!

  • Soon our oceans will be much cleaner thanks to extra tires!
    • Clean? I thought we did that so we wouldn't skin our knees on the coral, it cleans the water too? BONUS!
  • Strongbadia (population: tire) will be prosperous! And have tasty water!
  • by geobeck ( 924637 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @04:04PM (#16956150) Homepage

    From the last part of the article (for those who don't RTFA):

    The suggestion is interesting and plausible, says Sean Moran, an environmental engineer who runs Expertise Limited in the UK. "But I can see there being a lot of difficulties taking it from lab stage to full scale," he adds.

    He points out that there are already filtering columns which maintain their size gradient even after backwashing by exploiting the density differences. These use large, low density particles of anthracite, on top of sand, with small, high density particles of garnet at the bottom.

    Another problem in cleaning filtering systems is that sewage sludge sticks to the filter particles. Moran thinks the sludge is more likely to stick to rubber than to smooth hard grains of sand and coal.

    He is also concerned that the rubber from old tyres might leach out toxic chemicals including heavy metals. Xie's team is now taking feedback from experts, and running tests to make sure the rubber does not leach out heavy metals.

    I, for one, do not welcome our contaminant-leaching, sewage adsorbing overlords.

  • Lets just leave all those old tires on the bottom of the river and let them clean the river instead.
  • by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @04:17PM (#16956404) Journal
    That just totally explains the taste of tap water in Adelaide.
  • The people of Springfield could make a killing.

    If they'd put out the fire first.

  • Mmmmm. Benzene.
  • Rubber tires, the kind that lie at the bottom of rivers and at the back of junkyards the world over, could be ideal water filters

    If they're lying at the bottom the river, aren't they already filtering our water?

  • Water is pushed through them backwards to clean them out, but this ruins the column's careful stacking as the large particles naturally settle to the bottom.

    Now, maybe this is just a gross oversimplification of the problem... but I came up with two solutions to this "problem" a second after I read it...

    1) Multiple seperate filters, each only containing a single size of sand particle.

    2) Use the natural process (gravity and water) to your advantage... If backflushing perfectly inverts the particles, turn the

  • Plastic bottles already leach chemicals into bottled water ... I can't wait to see what comes out of the tires!
  • I only hope someone doesn't find some environmental use for used rubbers.
    • by Zaatxe ( 939368 )
      I only hope someone doesn't find some environmental use for used rubbers.

      Bubble gum, maybe?
  • Use junk cars.. if they all had their windows open just a crack water could filter through...

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