Used tyres in new cars

Seven years research with a renowned equipment manufacturer has made possible to develop a composite containing thermoplastics and end-of-life tyres granulates. Several car parts can be manufactured with this composite.

A car is composed of many plastic parts, both inside and outside. Since 2004, the year in which the preliminary studies and initial research were carried out, Aliapur has launched – and funded – an ambitious project whose aim is to manufacture car parts for new vehicles from the granulate obtained from end-of-life tyres. This initiative, as it has been carried out in the last 7 years, is currently unique in Europe. To achieve success, Aliapur approached laboratories specialising in rubber and plastics technology, as well as renowned equipment manufacturers who supply car manufacturers.

This innovative approach has made it possible to develop a "compound", that is, a composite containing several products – in this case the thermoplastics, polyamide and polypropylene, and tyre granulate, associated with an additive used as a binding agent. The production process for this compound has undergone many tests to verify the product’s reliability for industrial use. It has been shown that incorporating granulates into the plastics posed no problems at all with regard to the injection technique. Furthermore, the moulds did not need to be adapted to this new raw material.

Price is more competitive

Not only does this compound provide additional functions thanks to its elastic characteristics, but its composition also has a non-negligible financial advantage: end-of-life tyres are an abundant source material and the granulates produced by the Aliapur sector – the quality of which is renowned – currently cost around 25% to 30% of the price of polypropylene and 15% to 20% of that of polyamide.

Hence the advantages for equipment manufacturers – and thus for car manufacturers – of having at their disposal moulded parts whose qualities are constant and equivalent to those of traditional parts, whose surface appearance is the same, but whose cost price is significantly more competitive. Above all, there are multiple applications: the Aliapur compound can be used to manufacture several parts in the engine compartment (engine cover, head cover), in the bodywork (wheel arch, spoiler…) or even for the external soundproofing of the vehicle.

100 prototypes manufactured in 2011

100 prototypes were produced in 2011, with the cooperation of top level equipment manufacturers. These prototypes use, depending on the tests, 20%, 30%, or even 40% of end-of-life tyre granulates, which comes in addition within a highly favourable regulatory context: European directive 2000/53/EC of 18 September 2000 effectively encourages "car manufacturers, in liaison with material and equipment manufacturers, to integrate an increasing quantity of recycled materials into vehicles. End-of-life tyres thus have a very rightful place in new cars.