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Unique rubber tyre recycling

Green advisor

-an environmental jackpot

Throughout the world, car tyres discarded by consumers are piled high. Over the years, millions of tonnes of rubber tyres have been accumulated in ever-growing mountains of waste.

A process for recycling, the environment and health

Ever since rubber tyres became popular, the recycling and handling of old tyres has been a major problem, in terms of both economics and the environment. Now, however, there is a solution. With a patented method for extracting end pro-ducts from used tyres, Scandinavian Enviro Systems offers a process that benefits new tyre production, the environment and health. During the 2000s, Scandinavian Enviro Systems planned the first com-mercial plant for tyre recycling.

For many years, the solution for dealing with used tyres has been incineration or landfill – alternatives that are proble-matic for many different reasons. Tyre incineration often entails a process that is difficult to control and generates harmful smoke. Burying tyres in landfills is not a sustainable solution either, as they de-compose extremely slowly and pollute the ground as they do so. One highly current health aspect is that the Zika-carrying mosquitoes found in many parts of the world tend to lay their eggs in still water, which is often found in old tyres.

A hot patent

All considered, the ability to recycle tyres in an effective, controlled and sustainable manner is significant progress. With their so-called CFC technique, (Carbonized by Forced Convection) Enviro Systems has a patented solution for recycling tyres through the use of pyrolysis, a process in which the material is decomposed so that the component parts can be recycled. When the tyres are heated in the absence of oxygen, a porous rather than combu-sted product is created, which enables the material to be processed. The CFC pro-cess extracts carbon black of high quality, oil, steel and gas from the used tyres – valuable resources that can be re-used.

The CFC process involves heating the tyres in a reactor so that the material is decom-posed and the different components can be separated. The patented CFC technique enables full control of the temperature throughout the process. The thermoche-mical decomposition in an environment free of oxygen means that the tyres are de-composed with gas instead of combusted.

The foremost end product from the decom-position process is carbon black, which is a core ingredient in tyre manufacturing. The World Wide Fund for Nature has stated that the CFC technique contributes to a considerably more environmentally friendly process for producing carbon black than is otherwise the case, as the CO2 emissions are 60 percent lower.

A unique plant for a unique process

ÅF has contributed with the planning of the new plant for recycling tyres in Åsens-bruk in the Swedish province of Dalsland. This is Scandinavian Enviro Systems’ first commercial plant, as all previous facilities have been prototypes.

“We’ve worked on a very broad front with our new plant,” explains Thomas Sörens-son, CEO of Scandinavian Enviro Systems. “Aside from our cooperation with ÅF to review the actual design, we’re also conti-nually processing new information about materials, electronic control systems and risk analyses in the development of the plant.”

“We had our first contact with Scandina-vian Enviro Systems back in 2008, and realised the potential of their solution and methodology,” Tomas Lundkvist, project manager at ÅF, recalls. “Enviro Systems had the patent, but hadn’t developed a plant for their unique process. The tough- est challenge was getting the reactor for the pyrolysis process to function without a hitch. The process and the technique are relatively new, which means that you have to continually think outside the box,” he continues.

Naturally, there are financial gains to be made from extracting oil, gas and carbon black from tyres, but the environment is perhaps the biggest winner in the pyrolysis of tyres.

“The volume of tyres is so large now that it’s no longer possible to deal with the pro-blem by simply storing them. We need to decompose them. Now we have a uni-que process that not only enables us to deal with the tyres, but also to reclaim much of the constituent material. With our unique CFC technique, we can contribute to a sustainable circular economy with reduced environmental impact and reduced carbon dioxide emissions,” says Thomas.

An open environmental problem kept in the shadows

Today, operations are limited not by access to tyres, but by finding buyers for the end products, such as carbon black and oil. In what is slowly approaching a circular economy solution to one of the world’s largest environmental problems, Scandinavian Enviro Systems is taking the lead.

In efforts to fight the spread of Zika-carrying mosquitoes as well as to deal with the world’s enormous moun-tains of used rubber tyres – which await recycling.

30% of Zika-carrying Aedes mosquitoeshatch in water-filled car tyres*
*Dr. Gerardo Ulibarri, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry and Eco-
Health, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.


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