Scrap tyre waste sustainably transformed in high quality rubber material
U.S. Tyromer Inc, a company established by the University of Waterloo to commercialise a better way to recycle scrap tire rubber and more importantly, to manage scrap tire waste, announced the opening of its ground-breaking facility, Tyromer Waterloo.
The Tyromer technology invented by Professor Costas Tzoganakis of the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo, turns scrap tire rubber into a new, versatile, high quality rubber material – Tyromer-TDP (Tire-Derived Polymer). Tyromer Waterloo will be the first manufacturer to introduce Tyromer-TDP, and will showcase the potential impact the Tyromer de-vulcanisation technology can have on tire recycling in Ontario, Canada and globally.
“Each year more than 300 million scrap tires are generated in North America. During the average life of a tire, only 20 per cent of the rubber is used, leaving a staggering 10 billion pounds of scrap tires,” said Sam Visaisouk, CEO, Tyromer Inc. “With Tyromer-TDP, there is now a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable solution to the global management of scrap tires.”
Tyromer received early financial support from Michelin Development Company, Ontario Centres of Excellence and University of Waterloo to scale up its technology. Ontario Tire Stewardship provided a research grant for Tyromer to strategically focus on the de-vulcanisation of scrap tire rubber crumb. AirBoss Rubber Compounding, the second largest custom rubber compounder in North America, provided valuable industry knowledge and helped validate Tyromer-TDP as a viable rubber compound replacement in the manufacture of tires, and provided technical assistance in the construction of the Tyromer Waterloo facility.
The Tyromer rubber de-vulcanisation technology is based upon the following principles: When rubber is formed into a tire, it is vulcanized. This is a process where rubber is mixed with sulfur, then exposed to heat. The result is a hard, durable rubber product – perfect for making tires. However, vulcanized rubber is difficult to recycle because it cannot be easily reformulated. It uses a supercritical carbon dioxide assisted thermal mechanical extrusion process to continuously convert scrap tire rubber into tyromer – a Tyre-Derived Polymer (TDP). The conversion is 99% efficient. No chemicals or solvents are used in the process. This is the only known cost-effective and environmentally-friendly de-vulcanisation technology that can reverse the effect of vulcanization.
The patented process has successfully de-vulcanised different scrap tire crumbs – whole-tire, tread-only, ambient grind, cryo-grind, truck retread buffing, OTR retread buffing, etc. from 20 mesh to 60 mesh. Its technology can also de-vulcanise non-tire rubbers such as EPDM and silicone rubber for reuse as a substitute.
The Tyromer technology is the only commercially viable chemical-free process for rubber de-vulcanisation. It features the following unique features: Broad applicability: scrap tire crumbs of various sizes, types, as well as EPDM; Environmentally sound: No chemical or solvents are used; Controlled process: customisation of product: Mooney, elongation; Rapid de-vulcanisation: from feed to product in less than one minute; Reliable process: continuous operation by mature extrusion equipment; High efficiency: 99% conversion of crumb to tyromer; Energy efficient: less than 400 kWh per Metric Ton.
Tyromer Inc. is a company established by the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, to commercialize a rubber de-vulcanisation technology invented by Professor Costas Tzoganakis of the Department of Chemical Engineering.
The affiliation with the University of Waterloo has broadened our corporate mission and vision: Beyond providing value to our customers and partners, we will work with them with respect and honesty while delivering our best in service and support. We will offer our employees meaningful opportunities so they can thrive and provide for their families. Above all, we will be socially responsible and contribute to the greater sustainability of our community and the world. These are not empty words – everyone of us at Tyromer believes and shares these values.
With financial support from Ontario Tire Stewardship, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Michelin Development Company, University of Waterloo and a venture fund, our Company has successfully scaled up the invention from the lab to commercial production of its de-vulcanised rubber from scrap tire rubber crumb. Our patented de-vulcanisation technology has also been successfully adapted to process EPDM waste.
Due to the global nature and the size of the scrap tire business, our Company has chosen a licensing business model and will license its technology, manufacturing system and processing know-how. We will also partner with synergistic entities to accelerate our growth.
With the inventor and his former students as key employees, the company represents essentially all the available knowledge and know-how on supercritical carbon dioxide de-vulcanisation. To best serve our licensees, we will focus on our core strength – technology, process and product development and improvement – to drive their success. The team, along with its equipment manufacturing partner, has the capability to support our licensees and partners globally.
Each year about 300 million tire scrap tyres are produced in North America. During the average life of a tire, only 15 % of the rubber is used, leaving a staggering 9 billion pounds of scrap tires. Since there are few uses for scrap tires, over 5 billion pounds is burned of them for their fuel value. Besides posing environmental air quality hazards, burning only recovers about a small portion of the energy that went into making these tires.
The environmental benefits by de-vulcanisation are: Reduced consumption of synthetic rubber – a non-renewable petroleum-based resource; Reduced air pollution – more than half of all scrap tires are burned for their fuel value; Reduced the amount of Greenhouse Gas generated in tire manufacturing; Reduced environmental hazards associated with scrap tires.
Today, more than 50% of global scrap tires are diverted as TDF (Tyre-Derived Fuel) for energy recovery by incineration. As illustrated by the Recycle Pyramid below, energy recovery is the lowest form of recycling.
Because our Tyromer TDP product can be re-used for its originally intended purpose, it represents a highly preferred form of recycling. Our de-vulcaniation technology enables scrap tire management agencies to implement “Best Practice” policies in managing this enormous “renewable” resource. Energy recovered from incineration of TDF: 36 and Energy conserved from using Tyromer TDP in tire-related products: 90%