Used Tires Used for Better Car Batteries

Normally, you buy new tires, shave the tread off them through the friction with the asphalt and then discard the rest. That rest is usually recycled, by either cutting the whole tire into small pieces to recuperate the rubber and the metal parts or by re-treading it to be sold at a smaller price. Now, however, these old tires can help build better electric batteries for EVs.
Tire recycling into batteries 1 photo
Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered a way to harvest the carbon black from the used tires. Normal batteries use graphite (natural product, don’t confuse it with the man-made graphene) for their anodes, which can be replaced by carbon black.

The scientists pretreat the tires with some chemicals and then throw them in a pyrolysis process, which is translated through the decomposition of organic materials by heat in the absence of oxygen. This way, they can recover pyrolytic carbon black from the old rubber.

Unlike graphite, carbon black has a porous microstructure, which offers an increased surface for chemical reactions. Thus, the scientists found that using it as an anode in batteries will increase their energy capacity.

Pretty neat, when you think those almost-slick good for nothing worn-out tires you threw away gave birth to a new battery that’s even better and even cheaper, since there’s an abundance of old tires at the disposal facilities.

Currently, the team is working to scale up the process, license the technology and find an industrial partner to make it work.


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