The future Euro 7 standard should be the first to take into account the particles created by the tires. But solutions to combat this unknown source of car pollution are still being studied, such as the filter envisioned by the young company Tire Collective.
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Today, even on gasoline, most cars are equipped with a particulate filter in the exhaust line. But heat engines are not the only ones that generate these types of pollutants. Brake and tire wear is also sometimes accompanied by the emission of large amounts of fine particles. A phenomenon that even affects 100% electric vehicles and is taken more and more seriously. The future Euro 7 standard should include measures to reduce this pollution for the first time. Even a limit of 7 mg/km for brakes is indicated in a text proposal presented by the European Union at the end of 2022. On the other hand, no quantitative limit has been specified for tires yet. It should be noted that the regulation of the problem is more complicated, because technical solutions to combat it do not currently exist. A gap the young British company hopes to fill thanks to its tire particulate filter, which it has been working on since 2020.
The company’s fleet is targeted as a priority
After trials with Volvo and Geely, trials with logistics company Zhero continue in London.
The cartridge that collects microplastics must be emptied or changed regularly.
Tire pollution is more insidious because it is often invisible to the naked eye.
Microplastics from tires do not only pollute the air. Some unfortunately end up in the oceans.
For now, the project is only in the prototype stage. The first car tests took place in August 2021 with Volvo and its Chinese owner Geely. Today, real-world trials continue on the streets of London with zero-emission logistics company Zhero. An appropriate choice for technology targeting fleets first. In addition to light commercial vehicles, buses and lorries are particularly targeted because they generate finer tire particles: up to 336 g a day for a London bus.
An invisible filter is installed behind each wheel to prevent this source of pollution from reaching the air or oceans. It uses airflow and electrostatics to attract particles that can range in size from 0.3 to 136 microns. The idea is to use the resulting microplastics for recycling. Tire Collective shows that they can be used, for example, in bitumen, sound insulation, materials for 3D printing, or even to make shoe soles. But this also means that the filter has to be emptied regularly, which can be too restrictive for private cars. Remember that filters used for engines can burn particles. This has the advantage of being more transparent to the user, even if diesel cars tend to jam, especially in predominantly city driven vehicles.
Efficiency should be increased
The effectiveness of Tire Collective’s technology remains to be demonstrated. In an article published in the Financial Times in April 2022, one of its young founders, Hanson Cheng, mentions capturing 60% of particles in the laboratory. In addition to admitting that in test cars, this number dropped to only 20%. The goal now is to reach about 50%, which the startup hopes to do by 2023. Therefore, there is still a long way to go before this solution can be expected to become widespread… if not implemented. get out from under another technology. For example, engineering company HWA and the German Aerospace Center presented a prototype called Zedu-1 last year.
Derived from a now defunct small French production MPM Erelis, he went so far as to completely service his tires and use some kind of vacuum cleaner to better capture the tire particles. According to the two partners, the reduction of microplastics thus reached a high rate of 70-80%. That’s much better than the numbers Tire Collective put forward. But the system in use seemed, after all, too inconspicuous and too costly to implement itself in the short term. Between now and the planned entry into force of the Euro 7 standard in 2025, other ideas may still emerge.