WASHINGTON—The scrap tire industry's three-year effort to set guidelines for scrap tire use in civil engineering projects has paid off. Committee D-34 of the American Society for Testing and Materials approved guidelines describing engineering properties of scrap tires for planners of highway construction, landfills and other civil engineering projects.
``Hallelujah!'' said Dana Humphrey, a University of Maine civil engineering professor. Humphrey is the chief author of the recently approved document, ``Standard Guidelines for the Use of Scrap Tires in Civil Engineering Applications,'' on behalf of the Scrap Tire Management Council.
The STMC is funding a nine-month sabbatical for Humphrey. Beginning in September, he will work exclusively on projects related to scrap tire use in civil engineering.
The council initiated the study in 1995 after two Washington state incidents in which highway embankments filled with shredded scrap tires caught fire. Those incidents caused the once fast-growing civil engineering market for scrap tires to slow down.
The guidelines accomplish two things, Humphrey said. They describe tire shreds' basic properties and how to test them. In addition, they explain the proper methods to avoid embankment fires and other problems.
Highway departments, landfill designers and owners, state and local governments, consulting engineers and others involved in civil engineering projects should find the guidelines valuable, he said.
Civil engineers who haven't used scrap tire chips in a project usually know nothing about the material, said STMC Executive Director Michael Blumenthal.
``They have to know all the technical details—mass, thermal conducting properties, insulation factors,'' he said. ``This reference document gives them all these answers. It's more of an educational tool than anything else.''
Scrap tire use in civil engineering is more popular in some areas of the U.S. than in others, Humphrey said. ``The best way to describe it is that people tend to be resistant to any new idea.''
Maine is one of the states using scrap tires, he said. The state used 1.2 million tires last year in a single civil engineering project and this year will use between 300,000 and 1 million tires.
Few questions are left concerning the properties of scrap tires in civil engineering, Humphrey said.
``The main issue is education—we need to get the word out to those who plan and administrate civil engineering projects,'' he said.
Among the projects Humphrey will tackle are reports of ongoing civil engineering projects involving scrap tires; reports and articles on scrap tire leachate; and workshops, seminars and meetings across the U.S. on civil engineering uses for scrap tires.
Much of what Humphrey has been working on—especially the leachate studies—is new and important information, according to Blumenthal. ``The sabbatical opens up his schedule and allows him to complete work that needs to be completed,'' he said. ``We can get this very important information out into the general public.''
Humphrey approached the STMC in September 1997 with his request for a funded sabbatical to devote his time to scrap tire research and education.
In addition to the STMC, the University of Maine and several rubber recycling companies contributed to Humphrey's salary during his sabbatical.
The companies are: J.P. Routheir, Springfield, Mass.; Columbus McKinnon Corp., Lakeland, Fla.; F&B Rubber, New Bedford, Mass.; Integrated Tire, Buffalo, N.Y.; and Daulton Tire, Yanksville, Ky.
The American Society for Testing and Materials is an organization representing a cross section of U.S. manufacturing and industry. It develops and sets quality and testing standards for a wide variety of products and industrial processes.