The future of tyre pyrolysis

The future of tyre pyrolysis

What is the future of tyre pyrolysis?

What do I think is the future of tyre pyrolysis? I am writing this article inspired by a Linkedin post of my UK contact Howard Jackson.

There are so many facets of tyre pyrolysis that could be improved. I see heat efficiency as the major topic which will separate good pyrolysis technologies from inefficient technologies over the next years when those technologies industrialise. If a continuous tyre pyrolysis process requires much more than 600 kWh specific heating energy per ton of end-of-life-tyre granulate, then I would consider it inefficient for the heat transfer.

There was a time when I was very interested in microwave tyre pyrolysis technologies. Microwave heats and decomposes end-of-life-tyre granulates from the inside out. I imagine that this is more heat efficient than heating the insulator material rubber from the outside in. I once benchmarked 12 microwave tyre pyrolysis technologies for a client. Sadly, microwave tyre pyrolysis technology has not made the leap beyond pilot stage yet. The reasons for this are not purely technical but also in the evolution of those technology companies. Instead, fluidised bed technology, which long has been discussed in academia, industrialised quicker than microwave technology.

Generally, I like electrical heating for the pyrolysis process, because it enables us to source green power from solar and wind energy, which drastically reduces the carbon footprint of the operation.

For me, the future of tyre pyrolysis actually is a defocus away from pyrolysis.

When I research a pyrolysis technology company and I read on their website that their technology can transfer any carbonaceous waste including plastics, tyres, chicken manure and municipal solid waste into value, then I know that this company is not focussing enough on application development. Without proper application development, the massflow output streams cannot be valorised. And that means that there is no viable business.

In fact, to simplify my assessment, I specifically look for recovered carbon black product development. Raw recovered Carbon Black is about 40% of the typical output of a tyre pyrolysis reactor. If this product is not commercialised, there is no viable business.

For the production of recovered carbon black, the pyrolysis process is necessary but not sufficient. Without selecting and conditioning the end-of-life-tyre feedstocks upstream of the pyrolysis we cannot expect a good quality recovered carbon black. Without milling, metal screening, pelletising and drying downstream the pyrolysis, we cannot expect a good quality recovered carbon black.

This is the reason, I no longer call my industry “tyre pyrolysis industry”. I call it the “recovered Carbon Black industry”. The same happened in the mobility sector. Early cars and trains were called “engine”, although much more than just an engine is required for mobility.

And, as I always say, everything starts in the mind. Do you have a “recycling” mindset or a “recovered carbon black” mindset? Meaning, is your focus on your feedstock or on your product?

Where do you see the future of tyre pyrolysis? Is the future of tyre pyrolysis in recovered Carbon Black?

Get the new industry reference report about the recovered Carbon Black industry “Prospects for recovered Carbon Black 2023” now!