USING steel fibre from waste tyres is a viable and cost effective alternative to rebar in reinforced concrete, according to a DTI Partners in Innovation project, headed up by the University of Sheffield.
Dr Kyprous Pilakoutas from the university's department of civil & structural engineering said: 'The findings of the project indicate that use of recycled steel fibres in concrete leads to an increase in concrete strength, ductility and toughness.'
Conventional steel fibres are already replacing rebar in a range of applications such as slabs on grade, industrial floors, precast applications and sprayed concrete. Dr Pilakoutas added they could also be used in other applications such as impact and sound barriers.
Around 10,000 tonnes of steel fibre is used as concrete reinforcement annually, which would make a substantial portion of steel recoverable from the 400,000 tyres discarded each year.
Dr Pilakoutas pointed out that by eliminating conventional reinforcement, steel fibres can increase the speed of construction.
He said it is also safer to handle because it is added to concrete mixes and then pumped into place.
Disposal of used tyres is a major headache for the waste disposal industry, particularly with the 1999 EU Landfill Directive due to fully kick-in by 2006.
Shredded tyres are already used by the construction industry as reinforcement for engineered fill, and within highway drainage and reinforced soil structures.