The key to producing a stronger, more durable, and cleaner type of concrete is recycled tire fibre, according to engineers from the University of British Columbia.

“The concrete industry is a very dirty industry,” Nemy Banthia, professor of civil engineering at the University of British Columbia, told BNN in an interview.

About 14 billion tons of concrete is produced every year and is among one of the largest producers of carbon dioxide – a fact that prompted Banthia’s team to redevelop the common construction material.

There are about three billion tires produced around the world annually, many of which end up in landfills. Tires do not decompose and are highly flammable, but by adding the fibres into concrete, the UBC researchers say they can reduce the carbon footprint in both areas.

So far, the new material is being used on stairs and roadways at the UBC campus.  The team has embedded sensors in the product to monitor progress.

The project has “received significant interest,” Banthia said. “Over one hundred concrete producers have expressed an interest in this particular technology, which is very simple and seems to work.”

The team is looking into how it can make its new-age concrete even cleaner and stronger. Banthia and his researcher plan to experiment with increasing the quantity of tire fibres in the concrete.