The annual award scheme run by the James Dyson Foundation announced the UK national winners of 2020 edition on Thursday. The Tyre Collective will receive £2,000 in prize money to develop a tool that reduces pollution by capturing tires’ particles.
The device invented by the team is fitted to the wheel and uses electrostatics to collect up to 60% of all particles, which, once captured, can be recycled for new tires or used for other applications like 3D printing and soundproofing.
Every time a vehicle moves, micro-plastic from tires is released – small enough to account for up to 50% of PM2.5 pollution from road transport and 10% of all PM2.5 by 2030.
According to a recent research from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, over 200,000 tons of micro-plastic from tires end up in oceans and other remote areas of the world each year. “Roads are a very significant source of micro-plastic to remote areas, including the oceans,” lead researchers Andreas Stohl told The Guardian.
According to DEFRA, tire-wear accounts for nearly half of global road transport particulate emissions and it is the second largest micro-plastic pollutant in oceans (after single-use plastic).
The Tyre Collective team also estimates that tire emissions will increase in a future with more electric vehicles, as they become heavier due to the added battery weight.
The team is made up of students from the Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art: Siobhan Anderson, Hanson Cheng, M Deepak Mallaya and Hugo Richardson.
“We are passionate about the environment and trying to make a meaningful impact on society,” Richardson said. “It’s common knowledge that tires wear down, but nobody seems to think about where it goes, and we were really shocked to discover that tyre particles are the second largest micro-plastic pollutant in our oceans. At the Tyre Collective we incorporate sustainable and circular values into product design to capture tear wear at the source. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have proven that clean air is no longer an unachievable dream.”
And Anderson added: “We’re excited about having the backing of such a prestigious award and we’re looking forward to continuing this journey and developing our innovation further.”
British inventor James Dyson, who set up the foundation in 2002, created the award as “a head start for bidding inventors”, “open to current and recent design engineering students”.
Among the selected as national winners, other products were designed with sustainability in mind.
The list of winners include: Econooc (from Ireland), a hive made for wild native black bees; Cloud of Sea (Italy), a tool that encourages and facilitates seafarers to remove microplastics from the oceans; Kuno (Malaysia), a cooler fridge that doesn’t need any electricity; Voronoi Runners (New Zealand), a solution to waste from the footwear industry; Nemo (Sweden), a service that helps restore coral reefs; Whale Air Pontoon (Switzerland), a mat that can be used to save beached whales.
“We knew we had found a great design when we all said, ‘I can’t believe this has not been invented yet’,” Felicity Furey, business leader and national judge for Australia, said. “Ultimately, we selected finalists based on innovation and simplicity, combined with the impact it could have for people and the lives it will save.”