Shredded tires a cheap, environmentally friendly way to cover landfills

Sep 28, 2005

Placing shredded tires on top of -- rather than in -- landfills can save money and benefit the environment, researchers from the University of Illinois say.

Timothy Stark, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Krishna Reddy, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, recently evaluated the use of shredded tires as a drainage material in waste-containment systems. Shredding tires into chips roughly 4 inches by 6 inches, they report, offers a simple and cost-effective way of providing drainage for modern landfills, remediating older landfills, and disposing of mountains of scrap tires.

Nearly 280 million tires are discarded annually in the United States. Piles of worn-out tires can become eyesores and breeding grounds for mosquitoes. In landfills, intact tires can collect methane (produced by decomposing waste) and create potential fire hazards. Over time, these tires can work their way to the surface, where they can damage liner covers and cause increased leachate production that could contaminate groundwater.

"As a result, many states now require that scrap tires be shredded into chips prior to disposal," Reddy said. "Instead of simply burying those chips with all the other waste, we suggest using them as a drainage layer in both modern and abandoned landfills."

The drainage layer prevents water from percolating through the waste and polluting the ground water, Reddy said. Typically, the drainage layer is composed of sand or gravel, which must be purchased and transported to the landfill.

To investigate the feasibility of using shredded tires as a surrogate drainage material, scrap tires were shredded and distributed as drainage layers at two landfills: one in southern Illinois and the other near Chicago.

Stark and Reddy monitored the two sites for such characteristics as settlement, erosion, flow rates and water quality, and compared them with conventional sites that used sand or gravel. The researchers also measured the permeability of tire chips in the laboratory.

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

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

Shredded tires also could be used as backfill behind retaining walls and in other locations where sand or gravel is commonly used, the researchers report.

Source: University of Illinois

Explore further: Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Research helps raise awareness of human trafficking

2 minutes ago

Human trafficking –– or the control, ownership and sale of another human being for monetary gain –– was a common occurrence centuries ago, but many believe it doesn't exist in this day and age and not in this country.

Recommended for you

ESA image: The gold standard

8 hours ago

The Eutelsat-9B satellite with its EDRS-A payload is shown in the anechoic test chamber of Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, having completed its final antenna pattern tests today.

Frost-covered chaos on Mars

8 hours ago

Thanks to a break in the dusty 'weather' over the giant Hellas Basin at the beginning of this year, ESA's Mars Express was able to look down into the seven kilometre-deep basin and onto the frosty surface ...

Rosetta's comet: In the shadow of the coma

15 hours ago

This NAVCAM mosaic comprises four individual images taken on 20 November from a distance of 30.8 km from the centre of Comet 67P/C-G. The image resolution is 2.6 m/pixel, so each original 1024 x 1024 pixel ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.