Iowa State University

Robert Lohnes, Civil Engineering, (515) 294-8746
Ernest Kersten, Dodger Enterprises, (800) 298-9775
Jennifer Holland, News Service, (515) 294-4777


AMES, Iowa --Iowa State University civil engineers have begun research on a system that uses old tires for subsurface drainage. Usually a trench is dug and back filled with sand or gravel to help drain excess water, but a system developed by Dodger Enterprises, Fort Dodge, Iowa, uses old shredded tires instead of sand.

"This research could provide a practical way to use a problematic waste material," said Robert Lohnes, an ISU civil engineering professor who is testing the system.

ISU engineers will study the use and performance of whole tires as culverts and shredded tires as fill to help lower the water table. The test results will provide guidelines for an overall drainage system design. The research is financed by the Landfill Alternatives Grant Program of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Recycling and Reuse Technology Transfer Center, Dodger Enterprises and a research grant from ISU.

Led by professor Bruce Kjartanson, the ISU team -- including graduate research assistants Megan Gebhardt, Shiping Yang and Peter Zimmerman and undergraduate assistant Chris Kruse -- will work in collaboration with Ernest Kersten of Dodger Enterprises.

Data accumulated by Dodger Enterprises suggest that an estimated 42,000 tires can be placed per acre of land. A shredded tire drainage system around the perimeter of an average sized lagoon would use about 200,000 tires. This use of old tires could significantly reduce the number of used tires piling up in Iowa and the United States. Iowa landfills and storage areas accumulate 3 million used tires a year.


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