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Recycling waste tyres into devulcanized rubber

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RETYRE (Recycling waste tyres into devulcanized rubber)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2015-09-30

Gumos Technologijos (GT) has developed a full-cycle waste rubber production line that ensures a high quality of the product and improved performance as raw material. By combining an existing technology for rubber recycling (i.e. devulcanization with ozone treatment) with a unique mechano-chemical method (using a patented chemical agent), waste tyres will be converted into higher value products than those obtained with current solutions on an industrial scale.
The market for waste tyres is tightly connected with the production of new tyres as eventually all the produced tyres need to be reclaimed. The tyre industry uses by 70% of all the natural rubber and estimates for the next 30 years predict that the consumption will double. This could mean that the availability of raw materials such as natural and synthetic rubbers may become problematic. Despite being Europe the second largest virgin rubber consumer in the world (with a tyre production estimated at 20% of the world production), EU has not established its own alternative for rubber materials recycling and production, being dependent on supply from South East Asia.
RETYRE will increase the value of End-of-Life Tyres (ELTs) by improving the recycling efficiency and producing as output a high-value devulcanized rubber. This recycling option will increase EU’s global competitiveness and innovativeness by improving European recyclers’ market position and decreasing EU´s dependency on raw rubber materials.
The unique selling points of RETYRE will be: (1) Lower equipment costs and operational costs, with 50% less energy consumption and equipment maintenance; (2) Full-cycle production units, recycling ELTs from tyres to crumbs, metals, fibre and devulcanized rubber on a single production line; and (3) High quality secondary raw rubber material, replacing 3.5 times more virgin materials in several applications.
This feasibility study has been made to consolidate the financial and market data and to prove the technical aspects. This has included freedom-to-operate and risk analyses, market evaluation, defining the technical specifications, prototype testing, financial forecasting of various production scenarios and planning through to full-scale production. Specific objectives for this Feasibility Study are:
Business plan development: extensive market studies of commercially available devices to evaluate prices and performance characteristics in order to identify the most costly/problematic machinery.
IPR strategy: to update the freedom-to-operate study and finalize our patent strategy. As the IP strategy and the commercialization plan are tightly linked, this will give a valuable input to our business related activities.
Technical specifications: evaluate several size reduction approaches by inquiring the manufacturers of equipment. Assess information on commercially available machinery and custom-designed equipment for ozone shredding, options for processing shreds into fine size rubber particles, and effectiveness of devulcanization. Elaborate an explicit technological flowchart of waste rubber recycling
During the last 4 months, from 1st June to 1st October 2015, the technical and commercial staff of Gumos Technologijos (GT) has worked hard to define the economic viability of the development of a complete waste-to-devulcanized rubber production line and prepare for the technology for final product development. We have completed a Business Plan regarding the key stakeholders, the sales plan, the operational plan, a marketing plan the promotion and dissemination strategy and financial estimates. We have studied deeply the current state-of-the-art in separating and recycling rubber, which confirms our freedom to operate, and have developed our IP strategy. In relation to the technical specification, we have designed a scheme of our pilot facility, regarding its performance and capacities, as well as the materials and resources needed. Finally we have detailed the parameters to be considered for future improvements.
Regarding the current state-of-the-art of tyre recycling technologies, the European legislation, the potential market and our technical and human capabilities, after the feasibility study we have concluded to continue with RETYRE project as it has been proven to be a competitive and unique solution for the effective recycling and valorisation of tyre rubber. We have found that not only RPP product and our technology will be a good business, but also RRM is a potential to be commercialized.
During the Feasibility Study GT has clarified different approaches to commercialize RETYRE depending on the targeted customers and end-users. After the industrial scale-up of the existing prototype (350kg/h), to a DEMO plant of 2,000 t/y, GT will upgrade the pilot to have a capacity production of 5.000 t/y of RRP, which will be sold directly to the tyre production sector. Apart from this, GT will commercialize RETYRE technology through license agreements and manufacturing RETYRE plants for the principal waste-tyre management sectors: Tyre recovering sector, Re-processing sector, Granulating sector and Tyre production sector.
The targeted end-users of RETYRE (both technology and RRP) will have at least one of the following qualities:
Based in Eastern Europe (with potential for improving ELTs recovery rate), Central-Europe, UK or Turkey
Established waste recovery/processing/recycling company
Business strategy focused on eco-innovative production
RETYRE will significantly increase the value of end-user’s output products. Economic benefits will be gained through improved purity of rubber crumb, low-wear of mechanical parts of the shredding equip-ment, faster ELTs recycling time and increased materials recovery. The use of recycled rubber as a raw material will reduce the dependence of the virgin rubber, so it will improve the competitiveness of the companies. With established supply chains of waste tyres, end-users will have clear advantage over start-ing productions as the input material is limited, which will allow to expand their markets.
Savings in raw materials: Currently, natural rubber is traded at 1700€/ton on the global market. Assuming 30% by weight of the rubber is replaced with RRP, this will make a saving of 350€/ton in addition to savings with regard to transport/shipment, material handling and storage. Moreover, replacing solid rubber with waste powder will reduce energy needs for mixing rubber compounds considerably.