Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tire recycling can generate fuels

Tire recycling is topic that doesn't seem to be mentioned quite often and yet it represents an untapped opportunity, that may prove a success if processing costs do not interfere with commerciality.

Europe's tire waste production alone is approximately 3 million tonnes per year with around 65% to 70% of used tires ending up in landfills.

These tires on landfills are not only causing major environmental damage, they also represent a loss of added value in the form of new products that recycling of these used tires can generate.

One of the interesting approaches for recycling old tires is now being investigated in EU funded project called TyGRE. This project investigates recycling potential. The researchers that work on this project have already stated that tire recycling has better heating value than biomass or coal, and they contain a high content of different gasses. Because of this they can become an interesting source for the production of synthetic fuels, also called synfuels,

The EU researchers have been conducting an interesting experiment to analyze a thermal process to recuperate synthetic gas and solid materials from the tire scrap. This experiment consists of two processes.

First, it investigates the pyrolysis of the tire material to extract the volatile gasses that form the synthetic gas. Second, it is studying the use of the formed char to produce other materials, most importantly, silicon carbide, a known material used in the manufacture of ceramic materials and in electronic applications.

The first part of the process requires a heat treatment of the tire scrap. The researchers inject the scrap, together with steam, in a reactor and in heating it up to almost 1,000 degrees Celsius. The heating requires certain amount of energy but his amount will be recovered by the energy contained in the produced synthetic gas.

The synthetic gas generated by this method represents a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and dioxide, and methane. It can be later used as a fuel because it has similar heating capacity to natural gas but unlike natural gas it also can be used as the material for the production of other useful by-products.

These by-products add the most value to the recycling process. It has also been reported that recycling tires to create fuels are not just promising, but having silicon carbide as an added by-product is excellent because this is one of the materials of the future, and has wide range of potential applications: it can be used in metallurgy, in ceramics, and in a variety other products.

The only thing that needs to be studied more is the cost effectiveness of this process. There are some suggestions that the costs of production could be too high. A prototype plant that will soon be set in operation will likely give more precise numbers about the total costs involved.

No comments: