ASTM backs tire pyrolysis

Recently, ASTM International formed a new committee on recycled carbon black (rCB). This could turn out to be a major step to promote pyrolysis as a branch of tire recycling technology.

ASTM’s committee D36 responsible for recycled carbon black conducted the first meeting in Brussels on March 23. This happened in conjunction with the meeting of ETRA – European Tire Recycling Association.

DK Enterprises, a Californian enterprise which provides sustainable solutions, says there were 42 attendees at the meeting including companies producing rCB, suppliers of feedstock, laboratory technicians, representatives of testing facilities and many other representatives of tire recycling and relative industries.

DK President Denise Kennedy pointed out that to make tire recycling industry grow, it is important to seek for and develop qualified customers and users of end-goods; apply the most efficient management practices, find out the economic value, identify sustainable benefits and seek an opportunity to address the potential in new technologies. She added that all the customers, manufacturers and end-users should rely on the same consistent quality of feedstock so that the industry can move forward.

Also, two subcommittee meetings of D36 were held in Brussels. One of them evaluated carbon black standards from ASTM’s Committee D24 to determine to which extent the standard can be applied to rCB; the other meeting focused at development of new rCB standards.

Denise Kennedy from DK also presides D36.40, a subcommittee on Environmental Safety and Sustainability, and serves as a sub task chair D11.20.01 responsible for recycled rubber.

The process of pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at high temperatures carried out in the complete absence of oxygen. It helps break down rubber into several components. Among them are: carbon black, tire-derived oil and steel. Over the past several decades, there have been many attempts to commercialize these products. In the early 1980s, even Goodyear built a pilot pyrolysis plant. The company then concluded that it would eventually take more than nine years for the investment to pay off. For many years that statement was the reason for reluctant attitude of investors and industry players towards running pyrolysis business. Moreover, this was combined with the low quality of rCB and tire-derived oil. Over time, the perception changed and also technologies improved, market prices for oil and CB appreciated and manufacturing costs decreased, according to Richard Gust, president of national accounts for Liberty Tire Recycling.

One example of a successful company which recycles tires using pyrolysis process is Titan Tire Reclamation Corp. — a subsidiary of Titan International Inc. At the site in Alberta, the company applies thermal reactors to recycle large-size mining tires. The company is intent to expand its operations to Chile and Australia.

Yet another successful examples of pyrolysis companies in tire recycling industry are Pyrolyx USA (formerly Reklaim Corp.) and Delta-Energy Group. Pyrolyx USA plans to construct the largest rCB plant in the world, whereas Delta-Energy Group is focused at producing rCB of two different kinds: Phoenix Black and Zephyr Black.

Vice president of sales for Pyrolyx Steven J. Renegar, and vice president of product management for Delta-Energy Bill Cole, are both involved in ASTM Committee D36.

Renegar gave a very good feedback about the meeting in Brussels. He pointed out that recovered carbon black is a unique material and it will be very beneficial for the industry when it receives separate standards from conventional CB. He added that the use of rCB has been rather complex and perplexed, as there were no real guidelines that customers or suppliers could follow. He said that the traditional carbon black is composed of 99,9% carbon, whereas rCB contains 88-90% carbon. Thus, its uses depend on application, as it can be applied as a supplement or as a replacement material in different cases.

According to Bill Cole, D36 will bring together a group of professionals who will precisely determine standards for rCB and will then develop a testing system for the material. He expects that it will be alike with D24.

Professionals agree unanimously that manufacturers of traditional carbon black have no incentive to develop any standards for rCB.

The next meetings of professionals are going to take place as follows:

  • June 15, 2017 – Toronto;
  • December 6, 2017 – New Orleans;
  • June 28, 2018 – San Diego;
  • December 6, 2018 – Washington, DC.

Article source: European Rubber Journal

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