A device that captures microplastic particles from tires as they are released into the atmosphere could help reduce the devastating pollution it causes.
Tire Collective, a group of masters from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, won the British James Dyson Award for their solution to the growing scourge of tire wear caused by road transport.
Every time a vehicle brakes, accelerates or turns a corner, the tires wear out by friction and the small particles scatter in the air. This produces 500,000 tonnes of tire particles annually in Europe alone.
Globally, tire wear is estimated to account for almost half of particulate emissions from road transport. It is also the second largest microplastic pollutant in the oceans after disposable plastic.
Recent research by the Norwegian Institute of Aerial Research has shown that more than 200,000 tons of tiny plastic particles are blown from roads to the oceans each year.
The problem could be exacerbated as many states increase the use of electric vehicles, which tend to be heavier than comparable petrol or diesel models due to their batteries, which means more tire wear.
For these reasons, the Tire Collective team has created a device to help solve the problem of plastic microparticles in transport.
The device is wheel mounted and uses electrostatic to collect particles as they are emitted by the tires, taking advantage of the airflow around the wheels.
Once captured with the device, the fragments can be recycled and reused in new tires or other materials.