Turning tyres into steel no fairytale

7 August 2013

Following the success of ‘green steel’ Professor Veena Sahajwalla is now looking beyond the car tyre to the car itself, turning waste plastics, glass and metals into valuable ferrosilicon alloys.

Veena Sahajwalla has mastered the engineering version of the Brothers Grimm fairytale The Frog Prince.

She takes ugly waste materials destined for landfill, gives them the alchemist's kiss of life and produces beautiful, valuable and useful new materials.

And Professor Sahajwalla, director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at the University of NSW, has not done it just once by turning waste tyres into metal, she's done it again with the rest of the car.

Professor Sahajwalla's newest invention, which was given its first public outing at a conference in the US this week, is to take waste glass and plastic from "dead" cars and turn them into an alloy suitable for hi-tech applications.

"We take the non-recyclables, the glass and the plastics, and use the silicon in the glass and carbon from the plastics and along with tiny fragments of steel in the waste materials we put through a reaction to create a new material, a ferrosilicon alloy," she said.

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