Skip to main content

Feasibility study for scaling UP thermal conversion technology that turns scrap TYREs into high quality resources

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - UP-TYRE (Feasibility study for scaling UP thermal conversion technology that turns scrap TYREs into high quality resources)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2015-12-31

Meratel OÜ together with its technology supplier Greneco Oy have developed a thermal conversion technology that enables converting scrap tyres into highly valuable resources such as light heating oil (LHO), technical carbon, metal, and burning gas, without generating additional waste streams. The objective of the UP-TYRE SME Instrument Phase 1 feasibility study was to define the technical and business conditions for successful commercial application of the proposed thermal conversion reactor in recycling scrap tyres into high value LHO. This includes defining the technical characteristics for an automated control system that would enable scaling up the technology, and which would be further developed in Phase 2 of the innovation project.

More specifically, the specific sub-objectives of the UP-TYRE project were the following:
• Conducting a freedom-to-operate study to ensure no other patents are infringed by the proposed innovation project in the target markets as well as to identify the most suitable IP protection strategy;
• Determining the key technological limitations and development areas, such as the specifications for an appropriate process automation and control system; 

• Elaboration of a long-term business plan to define the most profitable market entry strategies as well as further development and commercialisation directions.
The overall feasibility study was divided into 3 tasks: intellectual property study, technical specifications, and business plan development.

The IPR study was subcontracted as a part of the coaching activity facilitated by EASME for the SME Instrument Phase 1 project. The task was subcontracted to Coutandin & Wacker Unternehmensberatung Partnerschaft, which is a German management consultancy that among other activities also offers highly competitive technology management consultation, benchmarking, strategic IPR consulting and patent management services. No new or inventive steps can be derived from the initially identified technological advantages because of very complete prior state of the art of the
disclosed technology. Nevertheless, niche was identified where an inventive step can be seen and used for a further IP strategy. This will be taken into account in further technological product development as well as in refining the core strategy for product/market fit and commercialisation activities in the selected target markets. The basis of an IP strategy has been formed and will be further developed during the Phase 2 of the innovation project. Meratel will also apply for own IPR within the Phase 2 project.

The main technological task that was addressed within the UP-TYRE Phase 1 feasibility assessment was to determine the specifications for the process control and automation system to enable scaling up Meratel’s thermal conversion technology. In order to guarantee the highest quality and relevance of technical feasibility assessment results, Meratel subcontracted Prisma Electric (Kharkiv, Ukraine) to support running the technical feasibility studies, research and composition of technical tasks, and planning how to run the practical automation process. Prisma Electric provides comprehensive complex solutions in the field of electric energy supply, energy saving and automation control systems of technological processes, and has previously collaborated with Meratel in several projects. Detailed requirements, specifications and design of the system to enable continuous monitoring of relevant parameters (e.g. heat, pressure) throughout the conversion process was documented, and will be used for final product development during the Phase 2 innovation project.

The economic feasibility study was carried out by combining different methods, such as desk research and holding meetings with potential customers. All target market studies were requiring environmental rules studies, existing practices of used tires collection, storage and further use or processing. Very important point was identified as local legal regulations and permit and licensing procedures. We also took into consideration products import substituting status for majority of target markets. Important knowledge was obtained from the fields of investment and banking practices for new projects financing and national programs of waste recycling and alternative green energy production. Although the prior art for tyre pyrolysis technology is already widely covered in terms of IPR, the industry and market analysis carried out within the feasibility assessment show that there are no direct competitors for Meratel that would be able to offer a modular and flexible solution for power and heat energy autonomous operation. The industry in target markets is however very mature and mostly occupied by large incumbent petrochemical companies with their monopolies in energy sources supply. Meratel as a newcomer to these markets aims to enter with a combined cost and differentiation strategy which relies on offering a modular plant solution for producing cost effective and environmentally friendly alternative energy source.
The overall result of the UP-TYRE feasibility assessment is confirmation to the business and technical potential of the proposed waste tyre thermal treatment process and the supportive automated control system to be developed during the Phase 2 of the innovation project. Results of Phase 1 project confirm previous expectations about the impact of the project and therefore there are no major changes in the objectives nor in the concept and approach. The next development goal besides building the control system is to build up a new, minimum 4 reactors pilot production module with IPR settled in Estonia in order to adequately test and demonstrate the automation system for future customer projects.