Australian researchers have developed a self-repairing rubber made entirely from waste materials.

A team from Flinders University has discovered a new kind of rubber and catalyst that together can be used with low energy consumption to make flexible, repairable, sustainable objects – including car tyres.

The new rubber material, made from cheap and plentiful industrial waste products sulfur, canola cooking oil and dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) from petroleum refining, can be completely repaired and returned to its original strength in minutes – even at room temperature – with an amine catalyst.

This means it can be seamlessly repaired if damaged and can also be recycled.

“This study reveals a new concept in the repair, adhesion and recycling of sustainable rubber,” says lead researcher Associate Professor Justin Chalker.

Each year in Australia, the equivalent of 48 million tyres reach the end of their life, but only 16 per cent of these are domestically recycled.

Around two-thirds of used tyres in Australia end up in landfill, are stockpiled, illegally dumped or have an unknown fate.

This represents both a waste of resources and creates health and environmental issues. Each passenger car tyre contains approximately 1.5kg of steel, 0.5kg of textiles and 7 kg of rubber.