No need for old tyres to be an environmental hazard thanks to new recycling technology

October 3, 2011

A new recycling process could be the answer to alleviating the environmental burden of old tyres.

Researchers with Deakin University’s Institute for Technology Research and Innovation worked with industry partner VR TEK Global to develop a new cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution for turning old tyres into high quality ingredients for the manufacture of new rubber products.

“What we have developed is a significant breakthrough in tyre that is superior to the current practices of shredding and burying tyres in landfill, burning tyres or recycling them into low quality materials of limited use,” explained Deakin research engineer Chris Skourtis.

“Our process does not rely on chemicals and uses less power—making it more environmentally friendly. It also results in high quality ingredients that can replace virgin and synthetic rubbers in the manufacture of products such as new tyres, car parts, insulation materials, conveyor belts and ashphalt additive for roads.”

Each year more than 20 million tyres in Australia, and one billion world-wide, reach the end of their working lives. Only a small percentage of these tyres are recycled with most making their way into landfill; placing a burden on the environment and human health.

“There is a world-wide need to address the issue of disposing of end-of-life tyres in a responsible, manner,” Mr Skourtis said.

“Tyres simply dumped or placed in landfill are known to leach harmful chemicals into the environment; cause fires; and provide a perfect breeding ground for pests like mosquitoes and rats.

“We have come up with a way of giving new life to old tyres that should eliminate the need for them to end up in landfill.”

The Deakin researchers, led by Professor Qipeng Guo, developed a small scale facility at the University’s Waurn Ponds Campus to test and refine the recycling technology developed and patented by VR TEK Global.

“We now have a technology that is far better than any other tyre recycling processes,” Mr Skourtis explained.

“First, the tyres are segmented in a way that allows for each part to be treated differently which eliminates impurities and results in a higher quality end product. For example, the steel reinforcement in the tyre is separated without fragmenting, which is not common in current tyre recycling.
“We have then created an efficient means of devulcanising and activating the tyres into rubber powders for recycling into rubber products.

“Devulcanisation essentially reverses the chemical process used to create the tyres. This is normally done using environmentally harmful chemicals. We have developed a mechanical method that requires no chemicals.

“We have also developed a way of using ozone gas to activate the rubber powder which makes it more compatible with other materials. This extends the usability of the powder for producing a wider range of rubber and plastic products than currently possible.”

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1 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2011
IMHO, tire manufacturers should install recycling facilities like this at their plants, and receive old tires from their distributors and outlets for recycling. Tire users should be able to drop off old tires at such distributors and outlets for recycling. I've thought for a long time that the corporations that generate waste (or products that end up becoming waste) should be held responsible for the proper disposal and/or recycling of same. Styrofoam packing comes to mind. . .
not rated yet Oct 03, 2011
cool, how much does the processing cost?
not rated yet Oct 03, 2011
how about soak the tyres in liquitd nitrogen, so it can be smashes/crushed into fine powder, wich could be an additive for new tyres or other plastics, or feedstock for a cyclonburner or something
1 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2011
Good idea, although I still shudder at thousands of tons of tire dust that we inhale everyday!
not rated yet Oct 03, 2011
Tires in landfills don't stay put. Every time a heavy machine drives over them, they flex. This causes them to rise and eventually pop to the surface of the landfill. So what's the process? They separate steel and rubber without shredding the steel (that's new) so it's probably heat. They also remove sulfur from the rubber without solvents-via distillation? This article doesn't provide any real info. It's an empty press release.
not rated yet Oct 04, 2011
There is US Patent Application 20100064868, which describes a machine that can split a tyre physically chopping the sidewall off, bead off crown and some how separating the metal too. The devulcanisation happens via extrusion. There seems to be several different methods, one with supercritical CO2, and other with just plain heat. I don't know where the sulfur goes though.

Its all very well that someone makes a pilot plant, but where can we recycle the tyres now?


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