Architect Student Edition February 2013 : Page 46

46 PRODUCTS INDUSTRY NOTES The Rubber Revolution ABOUT 80 PERCENT OF THE 300 MILLION TIRES DISCARDED IN THE U.S. EACH YEAR IS DIVERTED FROM LANDFILLS AND TURNED INTO EVERYTHING FROM FUEL TO BACKFILL. BUT THE POTENTIAL OF SCRAP RUBBER CAN STRETCH EVEN FURTHER. Text by Wanda Lau Illustrations by Peter Arkle ITSTRU TECHNOLOGY, ECORE As the largest user of scrap tires in North America, Ecore was in no shortage of a green mes-sage.Each year, the Lancaster, Pa.,company sources 50 million pounds of recycled rubber to make fl ooring, acoustical, and industrial products. Still, CEO Art Dodge wanted to further leverage the performance characteristics of rubber: durability, moisture-and impact-resistance, and sound dampening. “We wanted to change the [fl ooring] industry,”he says. Following four years of research and development, Ecore launched Itstru Technology,which conditions rubber to lie fl atand open its pores,allowing Ecore to “laminate virtually any surfacing material onto its recycled underlayment,” says Bo Barber, vice president of commercial flooring. Playgrounds have long enjoyed rubber’s cushioning ability, but until “Itstru allowed us to put a functional surface in healthcare, itwasn’t a conversation.” By combining the best of both worlds, Ecore envisions rubber-backed fl ooring—which can contain up to 98 percent recycled content— in schools,nursery homes,and multifamily housing. “There is no end for this,” Barber says. EUROSHIELD, GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANUFACTURING Tire-filled landfi lls impelled GEM CEO Henry Kamphuis to fi nd a use for recycled rubber in the 1990s, says Brian Eberle, the Calgary, Alberta, Canada–company’s marketing and sales direc-tor. After successfully repurposing rubber for use as a stucco additive, Kamphuis developed Euroshield, a line of roofi ng products that features crumb rubber as the key ingredient—about 70 percent by weight. The recycled shingles look and endure like their slate counterparts, but have rubber’s impact and moisture resistance, inorganic composition, elasticity, and insulation ability. “We’ve never had a hail claim,” Eberle says. GEM estimates that an average Euroshield roof contains 600 to 1,000 rubber tires. The shingles are guaranteed for 50 years,though Eberle estimates their lifespan could exceed 75 years. EuroLite, GEM’s newest product, comes in tabbed panels and costs some-where between the price of high-end asphalt shingles and lower-end standing-seam metal roofs. “It’s one thing to make a great product,” Eberle says. “It’s another to make it a real option to folks.” ULTRASONIC DEVULCANIZATION,THE UNIVERSITY OF AKRON Rubber has been a longtime passion for Avraam Isayev, a distinguished professor of polymer engineering at the University of Akron. Cured, or vulcanized, rubber “is a very stable, beautiful material,” Isayev says. “It is soft and, at the same time,tough and fl exible”in warm and cold tem-peratures.Vulcanization opens natural rubber’s double hydrocarbon bonds at the molecular level to create the cross-linked polymer chains that make cured rubber highly elastic. Consequently, “tires can stay forever unless you do something,” Isayev says. Until recently, vulcanization was a permanent process. After decades of research, sup-ported by the National Science Foundation and Nike, Isayev has found a way to reverse it using high-power ultrasound to break the cross-linked chemical bonds and return rubber into a “flow-ablematerial that can be reshaped and cured again,” he says. Currently, his ultrasonic extruder can process 300 pounds of rubber per hour; to help convince the tire industry that this is a real alternative in addressing waste, he is aiming for a rate of 1,000 to 5,000 pounds per hour. AVRAAM ISAYEV Distinguished professor, the University of Akron ART DODGE CEO, Ecore International BRIAN EBERLE Director of marketing and sales, Global Environmental Manufacturing ARCHITECT THE AIA MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2013 WWW.ARCHITECTMAGAZINE.COM

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