How much pollution comes from electric vehicle tyres?

To comply with circular economic principles, electric vehicles are on the way, but the automotive industry may also need to address its tyre composition

Of course, internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles hold the lion’s share of carbon emissions found within the road transport sector, but there’s also a focus on their tyres. 

The conversation around circularity is more prominent than ever among carmakers and truck companies, particularly when we look at the particulate matter produced by wear and tear from daily use. 

The cause for concern is not just about the use of rubber—although there are means and ways of overcoming the issue of tyre chemical composition—as electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to use more due to higher levels of torque at the wheels, as well as the size and weight of new cars. 

Emissions Analytics is an independent testing firm based in the UK with insight into the pollution contribution of vehicle tyres. Founded in 2011, the team operates in the UK, Germany, South Korea, and the US, providing independent testing services to uncover the real-world emissions of vehicles. 

The organisation’s primary focus is driven by the debate around microplastics and particulate matter produced by road tyres, which requires specialist testing to find the facts. Emissions Analytics undergoes several different tests to produce data and research in this, which is an important consideration when creating a fully circular product. 

How does Emissions analytics measure tyre pollution? 

Now, we’re not referring to ‘tyre pollution’ as the emissions produced from burning used tyres—that’s a completely different conversation governed by legislation. 

It’s known that tyres wear down and produce residue and particles that are either left on roads or enter the atmosphere, depending on their size. 

Emissions Analytics measures a couple of different metrics to understand how much pollution is created by car tyres—critical measurements to incorporate in the sustainability debate. 

Tyre mass low measurement: 

Measured in grams, tyres are weighed at the start and the end of a vehicle test to determine how much of the matter is removed from the tyres during use. 

Real-time mass and number: 

A measurement used alongside the mass low measurement, real-time expulsion of particles is gathered using a sampling ‘scoop’, which is positioned directly behind the tyres. These measurements can be much smaller, ranging from 6 nanometres to 10 micrometres at a 10 Hz sampling rate. 

What’s the verdict with tyre particulate pollution?

To assess such a matter requires well-presented data. Luckily, Emissions Analytics provides various samples from its tests to give an all-round view of tyre pollution. 

The team has now tested more than 300 tyres on the European market, identifying 78 organic compounds and recognising 46 hazards codes. It turns out the least toxic tyre compound is 85% less polluting than the most toxic version. 

To find out more and view the process and methodology behind these tests, Emissions Analytics has a presentation that outlines the causes and effects of particulate matter to be addressed by auto manufacturers.


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