McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Carmen Herrera

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Major and Classification

Chemical Engineering

Faculty Mentors

  • Professor Victor Chang

Department

  • Chemical Engineering

McNair Project

"Rubber Reclamation from Spent Tires Through Biodegradation: Current Methods and Possible Improvements"

Used tires have become an environmental hazard due to the inability of current recycling processes to fully degrade vulcanized rubber, the major component of tires. Moreover, many of those techniques are not environmentally friendly themselves. Numerous studies have been performed in an effort to find more effective recycling techniques. Recently, it has been revealed that biodegradation offers limited environmental pollution and has a higher rate of degradation and recovery of rubber. Unfortunately, research procedures have been confined to laboratory experimentation, moreover these procedures have not been conceptually examined as an industrial process. The objective of my study is to analyze ten different studies on biological and ultrasonic degradation, and to identify procedures relevant to establishing a general biodegradation process model. I present the combined theoretical model that might be applied as an industrially and environmentally effective process. I will also determine how this biodegradation model might be improved by combining it with ultrasound techniques.