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How do you dispose of your used car tires? Although answering this on an individual level doesn’t seem to be hard, the sheer amounts of old tires disposed of as a byproduct of a growing car market in the United States have grown to make a significant impact on the environment. Each year, over 350 million tires are consumed and only about 70% of the accruing waste is properly recycled at their end of life. The storage of tires in landfills, or improper methods of disposal, such as burning and waterbody displacement causes hazardous emissions and health problems. For instance, the improper storage of tire stockpiles can lead to potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects and rodents as stockpiled tires are often holding water for long periods of time. Burning tires can negatively affect air, water and soil and produce toxic chemicals, such as benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Tire stockpiles set on fire, whether by chance or on purpose, produce enormous amounts of heat and are so hard to extinguish that some fires have been continuing to burn for extended periods. A prominent example was a fire in Rhinhart, Winchester, Virginia that continued to burn for nine months on end. Against this background, an assessment of the magnitude of tire disposal related impacts in the near future is performed within different scenarios while providing insight into current practices of tire disposal. In contrast to this, alternative processes that process tires into fuel and activated carbon are looked upon. In a subsequent life-cycle analysis, the production of fuel and carbon from tires is compared to the fabrication of the same products from natural resources in order to show environmental advantages of recycling tires in these processes.

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Course Project

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Jun-Ki Choi

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium poster


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This poster reflects research conducted as part of course project designed to give students experience in the research process.