With a notoriously large carbon footprint, concrete is a prime target for researchers developing greener materials for the future of construction. A number of studies have shown how old rubber tires can be used to make versions that are stronger, more heat-resistant and flexible enough for use as a road material. A new study has assessed its value in real-world settings by using concrete containing old tires as a residential slab and monitoring its performance over several years, where it outshone conventional concrete in a number of ways.
The type of concrete at the center of this study is known as crumb rubber concrete, and its production involves grinding rubber tire down into crumbs of a similar consistency to sand. These crumbs can then be used to replace a certain proportion of the sand typically mixed in with the cement, water and other ingredients to form concrete, lessening the reliance on the natural material and giving the discarded rubber a second life.