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Shredded Tires A Cheap, Environmentally Friendly Way To Cover Landfills

Date:
October 3, 2005
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Placing shredded tires on top of -- rather than in -- landfills can save money and benefit the environment, researchers from the University of Illinois say.
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UI researchers are evaluating the use of shredded tires as a drainage material in waste-containment systems.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Placing shredded tires on top of – ratherthan in – landfills can save money and benefit the environment,researchers from the University of Illinois say.

Timothy Stark, aprofessor of civil and environmental engineering at the University ofIllinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Krishna Reddy, a professor of civilengineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, recentlyevaluated the use of shredded tires as a drainage material inwaste-containment systems. Shredding tires into chips roughly 4 inchesby 6 inches, they report, offers a simple and cost-effective way ofproviding drainage for modern landfills, remediating older landfills,and disposing of mountains of scrap tires.

Nearly 280 milliontires are discarded annually in the United States. Piles of worn-outtires can become eyesores and breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Inlandfills, intact tires can collect methane (produced by decomposingwaste) and create potential fire hazards. Over time, these tires canwork their way to the surface, where they can damage liner covers andcause increased leachate production that could contaminate groundwater.

“Asa result, many states now require that scrap tires be shredded intochips prior to disposal,” Reddy said. “Instead of simply burying thosechips with all the other waste, we suggest using them as a drainagelayer in both modern and abandoned landfills.”

The drainage layerprevents water from percolating through the waste and polluting theground water, Reddy said. Typically, the drainage layer is composed ofsand or gravel, which must be purchased and transported to the landfill.

Toinvestigate the feasibility of using shredded tires as a surrogatedrainage material, scrap tires were shredded and distributed asdrainage layers at two landfills: one in southern Illinois and theother near Chicago.

Stark and Reddy monitored the two sites forsuch characteristics as settlement, erosion, flow rates and waterquality, and compared them with conventional sites that used sand orgravel. The researchers also measured the permeability of tire chips inthe laboratory.

“Our research shows that replacing the sand orgravel with a layer of tire chips works just as well and costs less,”Stark said. “The tires must be shredded for disposal anyway, so thereis fairly little expense compared to buying and hauling sand or gravel.”

Theremediation of old landfills could consume huge quantities of scraptires. “A drainage layer one-foot-thick covering one acre requiresabout 70,000 tires,” Stark said. “A typical landfill covers 10 to 20acres, and there are about 150 abandoned landfills in Illinois, alone,that are in need of some degree of remediation.”

Shredded tiresalso could be used as backfill behind retaining walls and in otherlocations where sand or gravel is commonly used, the researchers report.

The work was funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Shredded Tires A Cheap, Environmentally Friendly Way To Cover Landfills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051003232701.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2005, October 3). Shredded Tires A Cheap, Environmentally Friendly Way To Cover Landfills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051003232701.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Shredded Tires A Cheap, Environmentally Friendly Way To Cover Landfills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051003232701.htm (accessed August 30, 2015).

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