Can old tyres be turned into batteries?

Posted by: Cal on 3/09/2014

Category: General

If you are looking to purchase a new set of car tyres, you may wonder what will happen to your old tyres when you no longer need them.

A study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA has revealed a new use for old tyres: batteries.

The team at this organisation worked to see what they could do with old tyres and discovered they could be used to provide power to plug-in electric vehicles. Not only that but they can be used to store energy produced by solar and wind systems. 

How does it work?

The researchers modified the characteristics of carbon black, a substance found in recovered tyres and developed an anode for lithium-ion batteries. First, they worked out a way to recover this black material. Next, they used it to produce a laboratory-scale battery. The carbon black was used to create a better anode for the battery and this negatively charged electron was used to store lithium when charging.

The battery was able to demonstrate a reversible capacity, and the good news is this is higher than what has so-far been achieved using commercially available graphite materials. 

Anodes are one of the leading components in batteries, so this opens up the scope of their use in future.

Essentially, the man-made pyrolytic carbon black material can be used to create a battery that can be used for vehicles and military applications.

What are the benefits?

Using waste tyres for this rather than other forms of energy storage is attractive as it has benefits for the environment as it can reduce the hazard posed by waste tyre stock piles.

When will this technology be available?

Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory are planning to work with the US Industry to licence this technology and use excess tyres in order to produce batteries that can be used in the automotive industry as well as for military and medical applications and stationary storage.

An article published in Energy Matters says the materials market for lithium-ion batteries is expected to hit $11 billion by 2018, so this is good news for those considering replacing their tyres as they can ensure they are not doing any more damage than necessary to the environment.

In the meantime, if you are purchasing new tyres, it is important to recycle them carefully.