EVER since they were invented more than 100 years ago end-of-life car and truck tyres have been a blight on the environment because until now there has been no means found to effectively and profitably recycle them.

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A unique process developed by Green Distillation Technologies turns old tyres into valuable raw materials.

Grinding up old tyres to make crumbs or flakes is not a means of recycling tyres as the rubber has not been changed and there is a limit to how much of the material can be used for kindergarten playgrounds and sports fields while using it as a furnace fuel in Asia creates noxious, greenhouse damaging emissions. Then there is also the environmental problem caused by old tyre dumps or illegally discarding them in bushland and waterways.

However, using a technique known as destructive distillation, Green Distillation Technologies is able to turn this wasted resource and an environmental hazard into high demand valuable raw materials. The process is emission free and the recycled oil is used as the heat source for the production process.

The first Green Distillation Technologies (GDT) commercial processing plant is 5km north of Warren in western New South Wales, northwest of Dubbo. The plant takes up about two hectares of a 21 hectare site leaving space for expansion and other projects, synergistic industries and tyre storage within the limits imposed by the Environment Protection Authority.

GDT established a pilot plant in Warren in 2009 to prove the technology and has now moved to the current site where a commercial facility is being built. At full capacity it will be capable of annually processing 19,000 tonnes, which represents approximately 3% of the end-of-life tyres generated in Australia each year. The tyres are transported to the site by rail or road.

Destructive distillation was developed from basic chemistry by technical director Denis Randall, utilising his 35 years of study and experimentation into organic waste streams. As a result GDT has developed the knowledge of getting the chemical reaction to occur.

The process begins by loading whole end-of-life tyres into a process chamber, which is evacuated of air and sealed. In the initial steps no further processing of tyres, such as chopping or crumbing, is required.

Heat is applied and acts as a catalyst for the chemical reaction, which sees the tyre destructed into different compounds. One of these compounds is collected and condensed into ‘manufactured’ oil. At the end of the process when the chemical reaction is over, the carbon and steel can be extracted cooled and separated.

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