Automobiles are constant sources of scientific and engineering marvel and innovation. Airbags were a creative answer to the question: “How do we make this safe?” All-wheel drive endeavored to solve rugged conditions. The list goes on and on. Here’s one that most of us take for granted: why don’t our rubber tires melt in high-temperature conditions?
Again, the answer is creative engineering. All tires on the market go through a chemical process called “vulcanization” that combines the rubber in the tires to a number of other ingredients to ensure they’re heat-resistant, fireproof, and virtually un-melting.
It’s a lot like baking a cake. When the eggs, flour, sugar, and everything else are baked, they create cake—a new substance with entirely different traits than its ingredients. When the tires are “baked,” the meltable rubber becomes something else that’s new and impervious to heat.
How, then, do you melt rubber tires?
Companies who recycle rubber have figured this out. It’s done by a process called “pyrolisis,” where the tires are heated in an oxygen-less furnace—meaning without flames—and at over 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit the gases in the furnace cause tires to melt down into its original, independent components, yielding a rubber that is very near its original consistency and can be used again.
Haddad Nissan definitely does not recommend trying this process on your own. If, for whatever reason, you need to get your tires melted, consult a professional.