A new study by The University of South Australia has tested and verified the structural integrity of building walls made from tires packed with other earth materials. The study says the results potentially provide new opportunities for the reuse of end-of-life tires in the construction industry.
According to this study, tire waste represents a major sustainability challenge globally, with Australia alone generating an average of 55 million (450,000 metric tons) end-of-life tires each year. While earth-packed tire walls have been used in niche construction scenarios for decades, there has previously been no strong empirical data available to support their use until this recent study, researchers say.
According to Tire Stewardship Australia, a UniSA team has assessed the structural integrity of a trial tire wall to examine how the structure performed under various stressors. In the study, Dr. Martin Freney says the wall proved to be as structurally sound as conventional walls used in residential applications.
“The wall we tested was the first of its kind to be scientifically tested in this fashion, and all the data indicates tire walls can be extremely strong and safe structures,” Freney says.
In considering expanded uses for tire walls, Freney suggests several unique characteristics of the structures may offer benefits over some traditional building approaches, particularly for retaining walls.
While the study only tested one real-world wall as part of the project, UniSA Ph.D. candidate Yachong Xu developed software models that allow the data obtained to be extrapolated to other designs, making the results applicable to a wide range of scenarios and stakeholders.