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ASU researcher puts recalled Firestone tires to good use

TEMPE, Az., July 24, 2002 -- An Arizona State University researcher is making good use of some of the 14 million Firestone tires that were recalled two years ago. The tires were used on Ford Explorers and recalled after reports of tread separation. How to dispose of all those used tires without causing serious environmental hazards once had state officials scratching their heads, but Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Han Zhu believes has the answer.

Zhu says adding a small amount of the inexpensive crumb rubber to fresh concrete can improve strength and durability. Crumb rubber is the end result of grinding used tires into one-millimeter chunks. One tire produces about 10 pounds of crumb rubber and sells commercially for less than 20-cents per pound.

While Zhu is not the first researcher to experiment with adding the tire bits to Portland cement concrete or PCC -- the technology has been around for 30 years -- he does own rights for the first "real world" application. A patent is pending on the ASU process for making rubberized concrete.

Arizona is one of the leading states for using crumb rubber in pavement, said Zhu. He began to explore uses for crumb rubber in 1998 with a grant from Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. His research, however came to a screeching halt soon after because he could not find a natural environment as an experimental site, a critical step in testing new materials prior to certification.

While rubberized asphalt has been used for decades on roadways, rubberized concrete is a technology infant. The researcher said in the beginning few people were interested in using a new material because there was no guarantee of success.

In February 1999, Zhu personally added 200 pounds of crumb rubber to the concrete mixture being prepared for a test site on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe. He says the ratio of crumb rubber added to the mixture equated to about 8 percent of t
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Contact: Lynette Summerill
lsummer@asu.edu
480-965-4823
Arizona State University
25-Jul-2002


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