An entrepreneurial academic from the University of Manchester has created a prototype product, enhanced with the wonder material graphene, which could help to recycle tonnes of unwanted tyres.
The hexagon-shaped SpaceMat™ can interlock to cover any desired floor area and have been designed especially for anti-fatigue or anti-slip applications in workplaces, gyms and other buildings.
The product has been developed by newly-created company SpaceBlue Ltd, which aims to recycle waste tyres by converting them into attractive and extremely hardwearing floor mats. Waste tyres can cause a significant impact on the environment - many are exported to developing nations where they are destroyed by burning.
From low value waste to high value product
The recycled rubber in the floor mats has also been enhanced with tiny amounts of the ‘wonder material’ graphene, which provides extra durability and strength.
“The intention of SpaceBlue is to enhance the physical properties of recycled rubber waste that has come from discarded vehicle tyres or footwear - and convert this material into a high-value product,” the inventor Dr Vivek Koncherry explained.
“It all began when I first read newspaper reports that several thousand tonnes of waste UK tyres are being shipped abroad each year for disposal. I thought that needs to change and I became determined to find a much more sustainable way of using this end-of-life product.
“SpaceMat™ is made of up to 80 per cent recycled rubber plus 20 per cent of graphene-enhanced natural rubber. Floor mats undergo compression and a fundamental study had shown that by adding graphene into the rubber it can double the compression strength - and this in turn increases durability.”
Prototypes were revealed at a graphene industry showcase at the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) earlier in December.
“Vivek’s vision to support a more sustainable society by creating a better performing product through the use of graphene is really exciting and has already generated interest,” said James Baker, chief executive of Graphene@Manchester.
“We’re looking forward to collaborating with SpaceBlue via our ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme which will further support the development of the mats.”
Posted under Public / Government / Charity, Waste and Recycling and Other Manufacturing on 18 December 2019