Recycling Waste Tires for Infrastructure Applications

February 11, 2014

Reno, Nev. company seeks to develop line of “georeinforcing” products from old tires

Long after the rubber has met the road, gone bald, and new tires need to be ordered, a number of smart options need to be explored for how best to use those old tires. Instead of symply shipping them off to landfills or incinerating them.

Ask Mike Merrill, founder of ArmaTerra, a startup company with a vision to manufacture a series of georeinforcing products from said tires which can be used to stabilize earthen slopes, levees, retaining walls, marine walls, along with mining and other industrial project applications.


Merrill, a geotechnical engineer who has been involved with earth reinforcing (georeinforcing) business, says metal georeinforcements are expensive to produce and transport, and have corrosion problems that need to be addressed. Polymer geogrid reinforcements are generally not strong enough to use economically in replacing metal reinforcements. In addition, both metal and polymer options require using new natural resources, heat, and long transportation distances.

Enter waste tires as a materials option, of which there are massive amounts. Annually some 300 million waste tires are generated in the US alone, reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Of that number, only 50 percent are beneficially repurposed. Forty percent end up being converted to fuel by burning. Ten percent still end up in landfills.

ArmaTerra has developed and patented a way to use tires in various configurations to replace existing metal and polymer-based georeinforcing elements that are being used in the field.  “Engineering is primarily about recognizing problems and solving them,” says Merrill. In this case, the solution appears to be pretty green.

Since ArmaTerra’s GeoTire products only minimally modify waste tires, little energy is used. GeoTire products take advantage of the inherent strength, durability, and negative cost structure of waste tires.  Tires have been proven to last a long time.  To this end, ArmaTerra won the Green Building category of the Western Division of the 2013 CleanTech Open competition.

Funding is also needed, says Sergio Nevel, ArmaTerra CEO. A crowdfunding option through Indiegogo is presently being used.

“We decided that our most committed supporters have to come from the growing community of people who are concerned and committed to improving the sustainability of our planet,” says Nevel.  ” We need to inspire a larger group of stakeholders who care not just about returns and sexy technology, but about improving the prospects of the environment.”

We wish ArmaTerra the best of fortunes in its fundraising quest. The product sounds excellent.

Photo: ArmaTerra



Glenn Meyers

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.