ERJ staff report (LMH)
London - Spanish R&D and innovation company Tecnalia is looking into the upcycling of end-of-life tyres for the roadway noise barrier sector as part of the EKOPAN project, the company said in a 23 Nov news release.
Tecnalia said the massive production of tyres and the difficulties in disposing of them after use has been one of the most serious environmental problems worldwide in recent years. The European project EKOPAN is seeking to address the existing problems by re-using tyres in the manufacture of an ordinary construction element like roadway noise barriers.
This project is in line with the principles laid down in the current European Parliament Directive (Directive 2006/12/EC) on waste, in which the upcycling and use of waste as raw materials are encouraged in order to preserve natural resources.
Added to the environmental benefits, the use of a porous material like rubber provides an acoustic barrier with enhanced noise absorption properties. So the new barriers being developed have high noise absorption and a clear environmentally-friendly feature; this â€œeco-aspectâ€ is made possible by the upcycling of one of the most problematic waste materials and by the cutting of CO2 emissions through the partial replacing of the raw material used in the ordinary barriers by recycled rubber, and through weight reduction compared with traditional concrete barriers.
Specifically, the EKOPAN project is setting out to fill the gap between the development of the acoustic panel (carried out in a previous research project) and the mass production and marketing phase. So it is focusing on optimising the manufacturing process on an industrial scale, validating the mechanical and acoustic properties, and conducting a market study that will facilitate the penetration of the new product.
The European EKOPAN project has a 24-month duration and is partly funded by the European Union within the CIP Eco-innovation Programme. Participating in it are an R+D centre: Tecnalia (Spain); a company with over 50-years' experience in the manufacture of concrete products: Norten Prefabricados de HormigÃ³n (Spain); and a firm of consultants specialising in environmental expertise: GEONARDO Environment Technologies (Hungary).
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Press release from Tecnalia