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Development of an innovative recycling process based in cryogenic and water jet grinding and sintering techniques for extending the use of recycled rubber in the development of high quality products.

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Putting used tyres on our feet, floors and in our cars

Millions of used tyres end up in landfills every year, 24 % of which are recycled, mostly for low-price products yielding low financial profits. Recycling the rubber in a way that renders its quality equivalent to that of virgin rubber can benefit both the environment and the high-demand product industry.

Industrial Technologies

Used tyres that go to waste — all the while presenting a major environmental problem — could supply 45 % of European virgin rubber uptake. A number of challenges present in realising this, not least of which is consumer beliefs surrounding product quality. The Criosinter project set out to develop an innovative recycling process for the production of recycled raw rubber with quality good enough to compete with virgin rubber used in high-demand products. The EU-funded project concentrated on integrating emerging grinding technologies, new transformations processes and new material design technologies. Project objectives followed two approaches: the first relied on raw material knowledge and the sintering process, and the second involved end-user and market expectations. Regarding the latter, project partners relied on emotional engineering techniques to improve customers' perception of recycled products and overcome barriers that such goods encounter on introduction to a high-demand sector. The sintering procedure was optimised; it offered an expert system capable of using resources needed in such a way that sintering rubber properties could be chosen according to the final application targeted. The Criosinter team members developed a strategic plan for raw recycled products as well as a supply chain, which was subjected to a SWOT analysis. The emotional engineering approach resulted in the development of a label outlining the advantages of the recycled rubber. Three end products — shoes, floors and automotive components — for high-demand sectors were developed with promising test results. Knowledge generated was classified according to that with a potential for further research activities leading to industrial application and that transferred to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) participating in the project. The latter will be able to exploit project outcomes through their own commercial routes and channels.

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