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Technology and safety are at the heart of what we do at Contec. Nitrogen inertisation, also known as inerting, is one of the safeguards we implement.

Flammable products and substrates for tire pyrolysis require extraordinary concern for safety during production and, above all, for employees. In combination with very high temperatures, these materials create hazardous conditions.

Thanks to technological developments and no compromises in our plant’s safety, Contec has implemented several safeguards to minimise risks, such as inerting systems. Although some of these measures aren’t legally required, our company policy is safety first!

The inertisation of the installation parts at risk of fire or explosion is a crucial part of our plant’s safety and one of our implemented safeguards. 

In addition, personal protection measures such as personal gas detectors, detectors at critical points in the plant, and often duplicated (redundant) control and measurement equipment make Contec not only a pioneer in what it does but also a safe place to work.

What is an inerting system (inertisation)?

Inertisation is a method of protecting a production process from combustion.

This is achieved by reducing the oxygen concentration in any machine or equipment to a level at which it’s impossible to create and sustain a combustion reaction (i.e. fire). Oxygen concentration is reduced by pumping an inert gas, such as nitrogen, into a closed system. 

Inerting systems are fairly new and not commonly used as a fire prevention method in the manufacturing industry. Traditionally, the focus is on detecting a fire as quickly as possible and extinguishing it effectively (and not necessarily preventing it). 

This method is not widely used because installing an inerting system is expensive. Since it’s not a preventive method required by law, most companies skip these ‘unnecessary’ costs.

How does nitrogen inertisation work?

To illustrate the formation of a fire (i.e. combustion), let’s look at the ‘triangle of combustion’:  the three main factors necessary to initiate ignition at any time and place. There must be: 

  • A combustible material for fuel (a substance that can burn) 
  • An ignition source/heat (initiator of ignition and later sustaining the combustion process), 
  • And an oxidant (oxygen from the air). 

In many publications, there is still a fourth element: free radicals, i.e., chemical compounds or elements formed during decomposition and oxidation and have free bonds that can lead to a combustion chain reaction. 


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Replacing air with an inert (non-combustible) gas removes the oxidiser from the system, thereby preventing fire even in extreme heat. The easiest inert gas to obtain is nitrogen since it makes up 78 per cent of our atmosphere (NASA), and its density is close to that of air, making it easily distributed in a pipeline or tank. 

Oxygen in the air is about 21 per cent by volume, and with nitrogen inertisation, we can reduce oxygen concentration by over 90 per cent. The amount of nitrogen applied is selected individually for each part of the installation with the help of pressure regulators. 

In most cases, conditions are considered non-flammable when the oxygen level is below 13 per cent by volume – which makes Contec’s plant highly protected against fire. Specially-trained employees have no direct contact with nitrogen (the gas is only injected into hermetic parts of the installation).

Safety standards at Contec 

Safety is an absolute priority for Contec, ensuring that the pyrolysis process continues without risking our employees and plants. Air compressors and nitrogen generators are required to produce and distribute the right amount of nitrogen in the equipment. Installation elements with explosive condition risks are equipped with additional inert gas injectors.

Mainly, nitrogen is injected into reactors, the oil condensation system, oil tanks, carbon black tanks, and the mill. The inertisation system is designed to provide continuous and easy access to it. There is the possibility of minor modifications even during production, thanks to shut-off valves and complete redundancy. 

To maintain the continuous operation of the entire inertisation, it’s necessary to continuously monitor it through control and measurement apparatus. An additional function of nitrogen is to increase the quality of pyrolysis products preventing partial oxidation in the reactors.

Risks: close to zero

Contec has introduced solutions like inertisation, reducing combustion risks to nearly zero. 

Nitrogen purging is carried out only in closed elements of the installation, and gas is injected only into selected and closed spaces or pipelines where there is no risk of the presence of operators — thus also protecting our workers. 

In addition, installation components are equipped with Pressure Safety Valves (PSVs), which open automatically in the event of a sudden increase in pressure. Methane and carbon monoxide concentration analysers have been installed on the plant, and employees have multigas detectors for personal protection that measure oxygen, flammable gases, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulphide concentrations at their current location. 

With this series of solutions, process operators can focus on production parameterisation to customise products, while keeping our plant, equipment, and team safe.

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A circular car can cut lifecycle carbon emissions of the automotive industry by up to 75 per cent by 2030, according to a joint report by Accenture and the World Economic Forum. 

However, the goal of manufacturing a circular car, which produces no waste and pollution, can only be achieved through collaboration across the industry to transition to circularity and optimise the lifecycle of every vehicle. 

Scaling up recycling and remanufacturing are part of this solution that will also make the entire value chain more resilient and profitable.

Circular car: what are automotive manufacturers currently doing?

Producing circular cars will be crucial in reducing the automotive industry’s carbon emissions, which currently comprise 23 per cent of global emissions. Currently, the automotive sector also produces five per cent of waste produced worldwide, which includes end-of-life vehicles and production wastes. 

Of this, 75 per cent are recyclable, and 25 per cent are more challenging to recycle and include hazardous materials, according to a 2013 scientific report. End-of-life tires, made of non-compostable durable material, alone account for two per cent of the world’s solid waste. 

Each year 26 million tonnes of tires are produced and used only for 4-6 years. 

End the “Take-make-waste” business model

Since car usage will increase by 70 per cent by 2030, automobile and tire waste will also increase if the current “take-make-waste” business model is followed.

Some automotive manufacturers have adopted business models that reduce their environmental impact and emissions by setting ambitious individual targets to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and join the circular economy.

These manufacturers have already begun implementing reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling strategies. Car manufacturers are producing electric vehicles, using renewable energy, closing the material loop, using bio-based materials, and recycling production scrap. 

Though these trends have resulted in technological disruptions, the strategies are used individually or in some combinations and are not taking place at the industry level. The changes have not been enough to reduce the industry’s negative environmental impact. 

Simply replacing combustion engines with electric motors will not be enough. Leveraging the circular economy will be essential to avoid stagnation when the tipping point of electric car adoption is reached.

And though many materials are recycled, and cars are repeatedly repaired, the silo approach with individual efforts by companies has focused on improving their sales and reducing only Scope 1 emissions generated directly by their businesses.  

By 2030, the automotive industry has to reduce 50 per cent of carbon emissions and, therefore, also cut upstream and downstream emissions to meet the Paris Agreement’s zero emission targets for 2050.

To that end, the industry is now working towards creating a common framework so that all value chain stakeholders can start cooperating to make the production of a circular car and further emission reduction possible. The aim is to provide a common language for the entire value chain to guide progress.

The Circular Car Initiative: What is it?

The Circular Car Initiative was started at the 2020 Davos World Economic Forum. by over 100 global organisations, executives from the automotive industry, policymakers, and fleet purchasers. 

The Initiative aims to accelerate circular manufacturing and adopt business models to reduce total lifecycle emissions of vehicles with a focus on manufacturing emissions.

The Circular Car Initiative brings about industry-level change and encourage the formation of workgroups and pilot projects to produce circular cars that fit a 1.5°C climate scenario by 2030.

The “circular car” is a concept of a vehicle with maximum material efficiency. 

It would result in zero material waste and pollution during the entire life cycle—production, use, and disposal—and differs from present cars, which focus only on zero emissions. Though complete circularity will be challenging, the automotive industry can still significantly improve its circularity.

Major tire manufacturers, including Michelin and Bridgestone, have created RCB Rubber, an initiative to find industry-specific solutions to improve material circularity. In November 2021, the two tire manufacturers announced their partnership and goal to use recovered Carbon Black (rCB) to manufacture new tires instead of fossil-fuel-based virgin Carbon Black (vCB).

The RCB Rubber initiative aims to address the technical challenges in achieving material recovery at a scale to make an industry-level impact. 

As a member of the initiative, we have one of less than five end-of-life tire pyrolysis plants in Europe producing rCB, is committed to being part of the solution.

Defining circularity for the automotive industry: how do we define a circular car?

The Accenture and the World Economic Forum joint report for circular car manufacturing can guide the automotive industry in reducing lifecycle emissions and non-circular resource use. 

Circular vehicles will protect the environment, conserve resources, and add value to the economy and society. The new definition of the circular car presented in the report includes four aspects—materials, energy, lifetimes, and utilisation rates.

To meet the targets of a tight deadline, monitoring will be essential. Therefore, the industry plans to track the degree of circularity achieved by measuring carbon and resource efficiency.

  • Carbon efficiency measures the lifecycle carbon emissions per passenger kilometre. Increasing carbon efficiency requires reducing total lifecycle emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy during production, use, and end-of-life disposal operations. The entire value chain has to work together to achieve the 1.5°C climate scenario.
  • Resource efficiency measures non-circular resource use per passenger kilometre. Virgin materials are non-circular, and the goal is to reduce their proportion in each vehicle. Instead, recycled, renewable, and biobased materials, which are circular, must be used to minimise natural resource extraction and their associated environmental concerns.

Increasing resource efficiency can boost carbon efficiency. For example, pyrolysis uses waste tires instead of fossil fuels to produce recovered Carbon Black, with an 80 per cent lower carbon footprint than vCB.

Reimagining the value chain in the automotive industry

To build a circular car that produces zero waste and emissions, players in the automobile industry have to set new and vigorous targets that will need government policy support.

The entire value chain must be reimagined. The joint report recommends that circular car production will have to take a comprehensive view by implementing four pathways:  

  • Circular material use must be prioritised by boosting the recycling of end-of-life vehicles and components for resource recovery. Contec’s end-of-life tire pyrolysis can recover Carbon Black, gas, oil, and steel, which can be used to make new materials for remanufacturing tires and close several material loops.
  • Decarbonization will focus on reducing emissions throughout the lifecycle of vehicles. Besides ending fossil fuel use for cars, low-carbon materials will be used in manufacturing.
  • Optimising the lifetimes of vehicles and components will reduce the use of resources by encouraging reuse for repair, subscription-based ownership, and changing the scale of production.
  • Utilisation improvement aims to reduce the number of cars on the roads by increasing the passenger kilometres delivered by each vehicle. Private-owned cars currently stay idle for a large portion of the day. Mobility (and vehicles) can be provided as a service-on-demand by a fleet of cars through subscriptions. Fleet ownership will make circularity economically attractive.

With these pathways, the automotive industry can reduce carbon emissions by 75 per cent and non-circular resource use by 80 per cent for a hatchback electric car by 2030.

Circular cars and business value

Optimising the entire lifecycle of vehicles by adopting circularity can increase profits by 1.5 times in the value chain. The automotive industry can earn 15-20 times a vehicle’s sale value by adopting end-of-life recycling and material recovery, remanufacturing, repair, leasing, and subscription.

New business models considering cost-benefits over the vehicle lifecycle will have to become the norm. Value chain orchestrators will be able to guide the change to circularity.

For more information about the industry, subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter to receive industry-related information about the circular economy in manufacturing.

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Recycling has become critical for the tire industry to limit the volume of tire waste and the problems it creates. The 1.5 billion tires discarded each year need 80 to 100 years to decompose. Tire shredding is a crucial part of tire recycling and is instrumental in reducing tire waste by 96 per cent in Europe and 76 per cent in the USA.

But what is tire shredding, and how does it help tire recycling?

What is tire shredding?

Tire shredding is a size reduction technology where end-of-life tires (ELTs) are cut to produce rubber chips. Shredding, along with grinding, is the most widespread recycling method and processes 87.5 per cent of ELTs.

Though tires can be reused whole, shredding them into chips segregates their physical components, making recycling easier. There are more recycling possibilities for shredded ELTs, since tires are built to withstand extreme climatic conditions and don’t degrade fast.

Shredding also prepares ELTs for disposal.  75 per cent of a tire’s volume is empty space, making it extremely inefficient to landfill them in a single piece. Shredding ELTs to reduce their volumes before disposal is a better use of landfill space.

Tire shredding and recycling technologies are well developed and can treat tires of all vehicles, even off-road or mining tires, economically. 

Tires are considered “end-of-life” and replaced when their tread depth is less than 1.6 cm (or 2/32 inches). Despite lifetime wear and tear, ELTs still have all their essential components.

Due to the composition of tires, the ELTs from various vehicles like cars, trucks, and earthmovers (EM) will yield varying proportions of recovered rubber, steel, and fabrics; see Table 1.

Table 1. : “Typical product yield from scrap tires,” Reschner, K, 2016. Scrap Tire Recycling.

Stages of tire shredding

The varying size and composition of tires can pose challenges that tire shredding machines must be able to tackle. ELTs come from passenger, light and medium-heavy trucks, and offroad vehicles used for mining, agriculture, and logging.

Offroad vehicle tires are large and heavy with thick treads. Offroad and truck tires have a high steel content, so the shredding process needs high-quality, robust machines to handle wear and tear.

Contec recycles both pre-sale rejects from a major tire producer and ELTs.  Their network of tire collectors only picks up tires that meet certain hygiene standards, free from mud and dirt, to ensure high-quality recycled products.

Tire shredding has two objectives:

  1. Separating steel and fabrics from the rubber
  2. Reducing the size of the rubber into a fixed particle size

These objectives are met by the following tire shredding process.

Debeading: This preprocessing stage removes the steel bead from truck tires and significantly reduces wear and tear on the shredder and subsequent machines. The steel bead is only 10-15 per cent of the weight of a truck tire but causes 70 per cent of the wear and tear on the machines.

Primary shredding: Here, the rubber is cut into large bits, but in the absence of debeading, this stage has also to cut the steel ring and wires. The machines commonly used for primary shredding are rotary shears with one or two counter-rotating shafts. Shreds from single shafts are uniform in size, while those from double shafts are irregular. These machines can work at low and high speeds of 20 to 40 RPM to handle light and heavy-duty tires.

Secondary shredding: These machines are also called graters and reduce the size of the shreds into chips. Standard equipment includes bobcats and front-end loaders. The engines run on electricity, and most tire shredders and grinding machines process 2 -6 tons of tires per hour. Screening controls chip size and separates steel wires.

Shredding produces chips ranging in size from 25 mm to 450 mm. Chip size results from machine type, cutting mechanism, and the number of shredding used.

Besides shredding, magnetic separation to remove steel and dust collection also form part of the operation.

To reduce the size of the rubber chips further, grinding machines come into play. The application for which the recycled rubber is used determines the size of chips and granulates.

  • Cracker mills take this rubber crumb to produce rubber powder with particles as small as 0.2 mm.

Tire shredding equipment can be expensive and high-quality chips have to be produced in large amounts to be economical. Therefore, historically, due to the availability of low-cost synthetic rubber, people tended to dispose of ELTs.

Tire shredding in the circular economy

To encourage tire recycling and reduce waste, landfilling entire ELTs was banned in the EU and the USA. Many landfills charge a tipping fee for whole tires because ELTs are difficult to compact and “float” on the waste, damaging landfill cover.

Tire shreds are more suitable for landfilling as they are compressible due to the high proportion of flexible rubber, which is free of steel and fabrics, and have only a quarter of the volume of whole tires.

Monofilling or storing only entire tires is also prohibited as it can cause fire hazards or become a source of health problems. So recycling businesses shred ELTs into chips to avoid paying to dump entire ELTs.

Besides saving money, shredding also makes the tire industry more environmentally and socially sustainable.

Shredding is instrumental in decreasing the environmental impact of the tire industry. The process increases recycling possibilities to reduce rubber waste. It closes the material loop, helping the tire industry join the circular economy. Recycled fabrics and steel from ELTs are products ready for direct reuse after shredding without further processing. The recycled rubber undergoes more processing to recover energy or materials.

The ELTs’ shredding, recycling, and recovery activities create local and regional jobs. Moreover, tire shredding and recycling allow the vehicle industry to generate income from ELTs instead of paying to landfill them.

Contec helps in rubber recycling by shredding tires and recovering products through pyrolysis to reduce landfilling, as shown in Figure 1.

The company uses a mechanical shredding method improved by its innovations. A primary tire shredder produces chips of 250 mm, and the secondary shredder reduces the size to 25-30 mm. Magnetic separation of steel also contributes to the quality of steel and rubber chips. The chips are used in civil engineering applications and as feedstock for pyrolysis.

Contec chooses to produce moderate-sized chips to limit the energy use required to make smaller chips and increase the sustainability of the process. The recovered steel and rubber from Contec go into the supply chain and have many applications.

Figure 1: Tire recycling at Contec

Recovered Steel

According to ETRMA, steel recovery is possible from all types of tires to produce high-quality metal. Recovered steel scrap after cleaning is in great demand by the steel industry to make steel. The more efficient the separation of steel from rubber is, the better the quality of both products. And the cleaner the metal is, the higher its value. The concrete industry also uses recovered steel wires for reinforcement.

Recovered rubber granulates

Prices of polymers and natural rubber are currently high. Therefore, rubber recovery has become an economic necessity and not just an alternative. Rubber granulates have several direct uses and can also be further processed.

Rubber chips from shredding are used in highway construction as non-structural sound barrier fills, edge drains, embankment fills, and retaining wall refills.

Rubber crumbs make rubber-modified asphalt, playgrounds, athletic fields, and railroad ties. Small-sized rubber crumb is also helpful as a filler for manufacturing virgin rubber compounds as its properties after vulcanization gives it several advantages.

It’s standard practice for tire manufacturers to use 5-15 per cent recycled rubber crumb in tire treads. Crumbs are also the raw material for producing moulded products like urban furniture, dustbins,  wheelbarrows, livestock mats, and athletic mats.

Rubber granulates are also used for devulcanization, and the resultant rubber regenerates are suitable for making rubber mixtures and producing mats, rubber slabs, footwear, washers, and cables.

Rubber chips and granulates are used as feedstock for pyrolysis, a thermo-chemical recycling technique that recovers Carbon Black, steel, oil, and gas.

Tire Shredding at Contec

Contec not only invests in pyrolysis technology but also in high-quality tire shredding.

However, partnerships and collaborations among all the stakeholders in the tire industry like manufacturers, end tire users, public institutions, and treatment facilities are crucial for the industry to achieve circularity and benefit from options like pyrolysis. For more information about tire shredding, subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter to receive industry-related information about the circular economy in manufacturing.

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Each year globally, 1.5 billion tires go to waste.

Finding circular and cost-effective tire recycling solutions is a major challenge because of the severe environmental impact of end-of-life tires. Synthetic rubber, the main component in tires, is very difficult to recycle.

Each year globally, 1.5 billion tires go to waste. These volumes explain why the need to fix tire recycling is urgent.

In this article, you will learn all about rubber tire recycling.

  • What is rubber tire recycling
  • Methods to recycle car tires
  • About tire pyrolysis
  • The sustainable development of new tire recycling technologies

What is rubber tire recycling?

Rubber tire recycling is the process of converting end-of-life tires, which can’t be used anymore due to damage or wear, into reusable material. 

Tires have a limited lifespan, as they suffer damage through regular use. Tread depth decreases through normal wear and tear, and tires become unsafe with tread depths of less than 1.6 cm. Hot summer temperatures, improper alignment, and other factors can also damage tires, further restricting their lifespan.

Technological advances helped tire producers to increase the average mileage for light vehicle tires from 45,000 km in 1981 to 69,000 km in 2001. But, people are driving 14500 to 19000 km each year. And with more cars produced and driven globally, numbers of end-of-life tires (ELTs) keep increasing every year.

Instead of treating ELTs as waste, tire recycling treats them as resources for recovering materials. Material components recovered from ELTs are 45 per cent natural and synthetic rubber, 28 per cent carbon black, 13 per cent steel, and 14 per cent textiles and other additives for passenger car tires.

Figure 1: Material recovery after tire recycling, Ferdous et al. 2021.  
(Image credits: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2021.105745 )

How to recycle car tires

The EU’s DIRECTIVE 2008/98/EC defines recycling as an operation to create products or materials from waste for the original or other purposes. It doesn’t cover energy recovery or the use of materials for backfilling. Rubber tire recycling involves collecting and treating ELTs to recover the materials in the tire, which prevents sending the tire waste to landfills.

Collection

In the EU, there are three systems of tire collection:

  • Extended producer Responsibility: In most EU countries, producers collect ELTs under Extended Producer Responsibility systems. Producers then recycle the ELTs or collaborate with specialised organisations.
  • Free market Systems: All stakeholders in the waste recycling chain work under free-market conditions but comply with the required legislation.
  • Tax system: The government manages tire waste collection and recycling and levies a tax on tire products.
Figure 2: “The Three ELT management systems in Europe,” ETRMA. (Image credits: https://www.etrma.org/key-topics/circular-economy/)

Next, collecting organisations sort the tires for energy recovery and different recycling pathways. Material recycling, entire tire recycling, and recovery through pyrolysis are three rubber tire recycling possibilities.

Material Recycling

This is the most common rubber tire recycling method. There are two techniques- grinding to produce granules and devulcanisation to make rubber regenerates.  

Grinding: This requires special machines and several steps:

1. Steel rims and textile cord separation take place before grinding begins. Steel requires melting before reuse. Textiles undergo cleaning before use in energy recovery or as insulation material.

2. There are two main methods for grinding the scrap rubber– ambient temperature grinding and cryogenic grinding.

  • Ambient temperature grinding relies on mechanical grinding with shredders, mills, and knives. Repeated processing produces crumb rubber of the required size above 0.3 mm, with rough edges. Cooling is necessary to prevent combustion as the process generates heat.
  • Cryogenic grinding uses liquid nitrogen to freeze tire shreds to temperatures below -80oC. Hammer mills crush the brittle rubber to give small, uniform-sized particles of 75 µm, with smooth surfaces and clean, sharp edges. Electromagnets remove steel bits and other processes remove fabrics. This rubber is purer but more expensive than ambient temperature ground rubber.
  • Several processes like wet grinding, the Berstoff’s method, and cracker and hyperboloidal cutting mills improve ambient temperature grinding steps to produce fine-sized rubber dust.

3. Rubber screening of the granulates ensures there is no steel wire and other tire parts. Sorting according to granulate size follows this stage. Granulates of various sizes and types are useful for varying purposes.

4. Cleaning the granulates is the last process before packing the granules.

Devulcanisation: This process decomposes natural rubber by breaking down the cross-linking bonds formed during vulcanisation. Thermochemical, physical, and biological means of devulcanisation exist. But the process degrades rubber polymers leading to a loss of many rubber properties.

Entire rubber tire recycling

Civil engineering uses entire tires because of their shape, size, elasticity, stability, and ability to dampen noise and shock vibrations. Tire shreds (50-300 mm), and tire chips (10-50 mm) also have applications in civil engineering, such as the production of paving blocks/tiles, athletic tracks, and absorbing mats for stables. Find out more about Contec’s 30 mm tire chips!

What are tire pyrolysis technologies?

The third way of recycling ELTs to recover materials is more recent. Pyrolysis is an old thermochemical method, but its use for tire recycling has just begun. The word pyrolysis consists of two words: Pyro = heat, lysis = breakdown into parts.

Synthetic rubber in tires has plastic polymers or long chains of hydrocarbons. Pyrolysis heats shredded tires in an oxygen-less atmosphere under controlled conditions at high temperatures between 400-700°C, in special reactors. In the absence of oxygen, the waste tire cannot burn but decomposes.

The heat catalyses chemical reactions, which break down the large vulcanised molecules into smaller compounds to produce Carbon Black, gas, oil, and other chemicals. Most of the vaporised gases, when cooled, liquify to produce oils rich in aromatic hydrocarbons.

The remaining gas is an excellent fuel that can replace natural gas. Steel bits are removed before heating. The burnt portion at the end is Carbon Black, an important reinforcement material for tires.

Technology leaders like Contec have improved the pyrolysis process with proprietary innovations to achieve >85 per cent material recovery from ELTs. Moreover, the innovations have made the process safer, enhanced product quality, and reduced their environmental impact. Learn more about Contec’s process.

Sustainable development of rubber tire recycling technologies

The adoption of novel technologies like pyrolysis for tire recycling is not widespread.

Tire recycling remains a problem on a global scale.  ELTs make up 2 per cent of solid waste, and currently, 75 per cent of ELTs end up in landfills.

Though ELTs are categorised as non-hazardous waste, they produce leachates that cause land and water pollution.

Pile of discarded auto and tractor tires in rural landfill, abandoned farms

ELTs also pose a fire hazard. For example, in 2016, a vast illegal dump of 90000 ELTs near Sesena in Spain caught fire and burnt for 20 days. The burning tires released toxic compounds like sulphur oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and fine particulate dust. These airborne pollutants also got indoors and increased cancer risks for people living nearby.

The initial attempts at ELT management, such as open burning and use as fuel for cement kilns, had the same negative impact on the environment and people.

More recent rubber tire recycling products also have environmental issues. Ground rubber in artificial turfs and sports fields leads to microplastic pollution. So do tire shreds used for civil engineering.

Efficient tire recycling through pyrolysis can prevent these disasters and pollution.

EU Tire collection regulations in tire recycling and pyrolysis industry

Globally, tire companies are leveraging pyrolysis technology to join the circular economy. This is partly to follow EU regulations on waste management.

  • The Landfill Directive (EC Directive 1999/31) aims to reduce the amount of waste dumped in landfills. It also encouraged nations to set up laws to improve recycling and recover materials and energy to protect natural resources.

  • This hurdle remains since the recent Revision Directive (EU) 2018/851 has not yet tackled the issue. However, this EU directive has renewed its emphasis on extended producer responsibility schemes. Here producers are responsible and have to pay for the disposal of end-of-life products.

As a result, tire manufacturers are aiming for circularity. They want to get secondary raw materials and use renewable resources. The tire industry relies on the 7Rs hierarchy from production to post-consumption stages to guide it.

New operations for tire creation will prioritise: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Redesign, Renew, Repair, and Recover!

Pyrolysis fits well in this hierarchy. This tire recycling process can help tire manufacturers close the loop for many tire components.

At Contec, we call this the “tire-to-tire” model.

What are the value-added products and applications of recycled rubber materials?

Conventional recycling products like rubber crumbs and powder are no longer profitable in developed countries due to market saturation. This has led to a great interest in secondary products from pyrolysis, all of which are in demand and many are lucrative.

  • Carbon Black: Recovered Carbon Black is the most attractive. It accounts for 33 per cent of the pyrolysis output. High-quality recovered Carbon Black can replace 25 per cent of the virgin Carbon Black produced from fossil fuels in tire manufacturing. Recovered Carbon Black is also useful in paints, inks, industrial, and consumer rubber goods like cables, wires, etc.

  • Recovered tire pyrolysis oil: The Contec process produces 40 per cent of oil of high calorific value. It requires desulphurisation and refining before further use. It can serve as fuel for vehicles, engines, power plants, and alone or mixed with other petrochemicals.

  • Recovered steel: Though not as pricey as the other products, there is a high demand for the 15 per cent steel recovered from the Contec process.

  • Gas: Part of the 12 per cent of recovered gas currently fuels the Contec plant. The rest will go towards electricity generation for the local community.

Some new applications of conventional recycled products are also profitable:

  • Rubber crumbs and powder can be used to make moulded rubber products like dustbins, urban furniture, wheelbarrows, railroad ties, etc.

  • Devulcanisation: Rubber regenerates from devulcanisation can be used to make rubber mixtures for manufacturing footwear, washers, cables, rubber slabs, mats, etc.

For any recycling method to work, various stakeholders must work together, like tire users, public institutions, private companies, and treatment facilities, to apply these applications.

This is especially true for circular options like pyrolysis, where producers and recycling units can work together to plan and develop new products that are more sustainable. For more information about tire recycling, subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter to receive industry-related information about the circular economy in manufacturing.

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We would like to warmly welcome our new CFO, Piotr Miednik, to the Contec team.

As we enter a new fundraising round and our next growth phase, Piotr’s many years of experience in fundraising and finances will be a valuable asset to the Contec team. 

“I’m really excited to join the Contec team and know that working with Krzysztof and Dominik will be a pleasure! I believe in what we’re doing and the positive impact our technology brings to the world. The strategy is clear, and I personally think that with Warsaw Equity Group as our partners for growth, this journey will definitely be more than just a road trip.” 

Piotr Miednik, CFO at Contec
Piotr Miednik CFO

Piotr has worked in finance for 15 years, gaining valuable skills and experience in companies listed on the WSE and owned by PE funds. He has also collaborated with CCC, Prima Moda, IT Kontrakt, Karl Vogele AG, and others in Switzerland.

Our new CFO specialises in building investment and capital strategies, as well as group reporting. He is used to managing international teams and completing his work in fast-paced and high-pressure environments.

Piotr is also an expert in M&A transactions, and one of these acquisitions received the Forbes No.1 Top Largest Acquisitions Abroad in 2020.

His work focuses on open communication and agile management, and his experience, skills, and personal values make Piotr a fantastic fit for the Contec team.

“Piotr joins Contec at a time when we’re ready to quickly scale our operations! We’re very excited to have him on board with us as our CFO during this next chapter in the company. His prestigious background in finances and fundraising are what we need to succeed – and his dedicated and venturesome personality is a welcomed addition to our team.”

– Krzysztof Wróblewski, CEO at Contec

Piotr’s valuable experiences and know-how will also help with our scalability in the coming months. We are excited to see how Contec grows, develops, and flourishes under Piotr’s direction.

At Contec, we want to accelerate the transformation of the manufacturing industry towards carbon neutrality. We all need to find ways to reduce our impact on the planet, and Piotr will play an important role in this key part of our vision as we continue to grow.

Welcome to the team, Piotr!

The EU targets for recycling passenger and light vehicles are setting world standards for automobile production. 

This is because the European End of Life Vehicles Directive makes producers and importers responsible for limiting the environmental and safety impact of automobile waste.

Each year, 8 to 9 million tonnes of waste are produced by end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) in the EU. In this article, you will learn how the Directive is driving the industry’s initiatives towards circularity and sustainability.

What is the end-of-life vehicles directive (ELV)?

The End-of-life vehicles Directive is a law initiated by the European Union in 2000 to reduce the environmental damage by end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). The goal of the Directive is to prevent the waste of materials used to produce automobiles.

To this end, the Directive set targets for all economic operators in the life cycle of vehicles to increase reuse, recycling, and recovery of material. It’s relevant for cars and light vehicles but doesn’t cover motorcycles and heavy-duty trucks.

Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 September 2000 on end-of-life vehicles was one of the first proposals by the European Commission to tackle waste streams.

Amendments have been made through four Commission Decisions in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005. The Directive (EU) 2018/849 made further amendments by adding new minimum requirements for the treatment and certification of ELVs and coding standards for recycling and recovery of parts.

The consolidated Directive currently requires that each member nation takes steps to implement the following goals:

  • Encourage sustainable design and production of vehicles by considering recycling and recovery of materials when dismantling ELVs to avoid waste generation.

  • Eliminate the use of hazardous heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and hexavalent chromium and increase the use of recycled materials to produce new vehicles.

  • Set up collection centres for the free take-back of ELVs and discarded spare parts during repairs.

  • Introduce extended producer responsibility schemes to make producers pay all or part of the costs of collection and treatment of ELVs.

  • Set up authorised treatment centres which meet high environmental standards.

  • Set the following recovery and recycling targets for producers to achieve by 1 January 2015 – Minimum reuse/ recycling of 85 per cent by weight per vehicle. Minimum reuse/ recovery of 95 per cent by weight per vehicle.

The member states initially had difficulties implementing the Directive and differences remain in achieving the targets. However, by 2019, the EU had managed to reach these targets, with a material recovery rate of 95.1 per cent and a recycling rate of 89.6 per cent; see Figure 1. 

In 2021, Germany had the best recycling and recovery rates for ELVs and exceeded average EU rates by 7.5 per cent.

Figure 1: “Reuse/recovery and reuse/recycling rates for end-of-life vehicles in 2019 (per cent of the weight of vehicles) Source: Eurostat (env_waselv).” (Image credits: End-of-life vehicle statistics)

In 2020, the EU began a review to improve and bring the Directive in line with the requirements of the New Green Deal. A new ELV Directive is expected by the end of 2022, which will address issues surrounding the export of polluting vehicles.

It will also seek to make use of recycled plastic mandatory for some components in cars, as plastic is the second-largest category of material used after metals in car builds.

What happens to end-of-life vehicles?

End-of-life vehicles have no negative value and need to be scrapped as they’re considered waste. There are two types of ELVs – natural and premature. Natural ELVs are vehicles, which lose technical or economic value because they’re used and old, while premature ELVs lose value due to accidents and are written off.

These ELVs contain both useful and hazardous components. About 8 to 9 million tonnes of automobile waste is generated each year in the EU, of which 25 per cent is hazardous. Of this, 6.9 million tonnes of vehicle waste was scrapped in the EU in 2019. 

As prescribed by the ELV Directive, all stakeholders in the vehicle life cycle have a role to play and ELVs must go through the following steps in the ELVs disposal route (as shown in Figure 2):

  • Owners must bring the end-of-life vehicle to their new or used car dealer. The dealers send the ELVs to collectors or dismantlers.

  • Car owners have to get a certificate of destruction from the car dealer or authorised collecting and treatment facilities to deregister the vehicle, depending on the country.

  • Authorised dismantlers and collectors dismantle the car to remove reusable parts for sale, such as engines, gearboxes, body parts, airbags, etc. Dismantlers also depollute ELVs by removing batteries and draining air conditioner fluids and oils in a safe environment. They also have permission to destroy special waste. Thorough separation by dismantlers can significantly reduce waste in subsequent stages.

  • Shredders further dismantle car parts but also shred the body. Metal components get separated from the nonmetals and are sent for recycling, back to vehicle producers to make the same components, or sent to other users. Automobile shredder residue (ASR) is composed of non-metal items (fabric, paper, wood, plastic, rubber, etc.) and iron.

  • Energy recovery is the next step. Combustible parts of the car in ASR are used instead of other fuels in industrial processes like cement production.

  • Landfilling of the remaining ASR occurs after strict control. The ELV Directive aims to reduce landfilling to less than 5 per cent of the materials in ELV.

Despite the ELV Directive, about one-third of ELVs in the EU is not deregistered. These are illegally exported and scrapped or abandoned.

Figure 2: “Steps in ELV Recycling according to the EVL directive.” (Image credits: End-of-life vehicle recycling in the European Union)

How do ELTs fit into all of this?

End-of-life tires (ELTs) must also be treated, because, under Directive 2000/53/EC, the reuse, recycling, and recovery of any part of the vehicle must also have no negative safety or environmental impact.

Moreover, the Commission Decision 2003/138/EC of 27 February 2003, in keeping with the ELV Directive 2000/53/EC, has established component and material coding standards for rubber (elastomers) and plastics and requires separate recovery of these materials after dismantling. Since tires have both rubber and plastics, they form a separate waste stream.

These ELTs have become a global waste problem since most methods to recycle them also have a negative environmental and safety impact. Moreover, though ELTs are classified as non-hazardous waste, they do contain heavy metals, so they have to be handled with care.

To comply with Directive 2000/53/EC, manufacturers must produce tires from which they can recycle at least 85 per cent and recover 95 per cent of materials. These requirements are spurring a movement towards circularity to recover and recycle material from waste tires.

Newer technologies like pyrolysis have caught the attention of the tire industry as it’s the most efficient and sustainable recycling option for tires. For example, the new improved Contec pyrolysis process can recover 85 per cent of materials in the form of products such as Carbon Black, oil, gas, and steel.

By using 20 per cent of the pyrolytic from recovered Carbon Black as reinforcing filler, tire rubbers can ensure compliance with the ELV Directive clause, which requires manufacturers to incorporate recycled material in their production.

How are car manufacturers affected by this?

Besides recovering and recycling material, vehicle manufacturers and importers have several other responsibilities under the ELV Directive. They’re the pivot between upstream (raw materials) and downstream for vehicles:

  • Producers must design vehicles that are easy to dismantle, reuse, and recycle, and are hazardous substance-free, as it can have a significant impact on the entire life cycle of vehicles. The use of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium is restricted in-vehicle components. And the production process must also use less energy.

  • Importers and manufacturers must pass on information for dismantling, recycling, and treating components in each model of car and light vehicles below 3.5 tonnes.

  • Importers, manufacturers, and distributors must set up or participate in integrated systems for the free take-back of ELVs within their territory. In most countries, suppliers of individual brands have their own collection systems. In countries like Denmark, a network of dealers collect all vehicles in their area. Spain has a variety of dealers and municipal and authorised treatment centres that collect ELVs.

  • Producers and importers are also responsible for covering the costs of the collection and treatment of ELV waste.

  • Producers and importers of vehicles are responsible for meeting the recycling and recovery targets set by the ELV Directive.

Though producers and suppliers have a major role to play, coordinated action by all players is necessary for any country to achieve the ELV Directive goals of ushering in a green and sustainable change in the vehicle industry. For more information about industry news, subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter to receive industry-related information about the circular economy in manufacturing.

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Molten salts are a novel heat transfer system whose potential is just beginning to be realised. 

They’re safe, stable, and efficient for higher temperature systems. Molten salts are also environmentally friendly and pose few health hazards. In this article, you can find out what molten salts are, how to use them, and why circular manufacturing companies like Contec use molten salts in their waste tire pyrolysis process.

What are molten salts?

Molten salts are a phase change material used to store thermal energy.

Phase change materials are solid at room temperatures and atmospheric pressure and turn into fluids when heated. Molten salts store the energy applied to convert them into liquids as latent heat, which they can transfer to other materials. Heat transfer, therefore, occurs in two directions. When heat is applied, the salts melt, and when heat is removed, the liquid solidifies again.

As phase change materials, molten salts have a higher latent heat capacity than conventional materials, and minimal temperature changes are needed to increase their heat capacity.

Molten salts are composed of nitrates, nitrites, carbonates, chlorides, and fluorides. Each of them has unique properties that make them useful for varying applications. But the common feature of all molten salts is their thermal stability at high temperatures.

What are molten salts used for?

Many molten salts remain liquids at 250 to 1000°C and have a low vapour pressure.

This property makes them suitable for applications where liquids at very high temperatures are necessary for heat storage or transfer.

Molten salts heated beyond their liquid temperature range degrade into gaseous components. Combining different salts can lower the melting points of the salts and increase the temperature range where they remain as liquids. Depending on the temperatures required and the applications, different mixtures of salts are used.

The common molten salts you find used as a heat transfer medium are a mixture of two salts—60 per cent sodium nitrate and 40 per cent potassium nitrate, which melt when heated at 220°C. They remain as liquids in the temperature range of 220-600°C and decompose into nitrogen and nitrogen oxides at temperatures over 600°C.

The most widespread use of molten salts is to store thermal energy in solar power plants. During the day, the excess solar heat not used for making electricity is sent to molten salts for storage. Solar plants use the heat stored in molten salts to produce steam and generate electricity overnight. Molten salt systems can increase the capacity of solar plants from 25 per cent to 70 per cent.

Molten salts are used as heat transfer systems, for process heating of waste tires, and in pyrolysis for material recovery. Molten salts are also commonly used for heating and quenching steel.

Using molten salts as a heat transfer fluid

Water and synthetic oils are common fluids currently used as heat transfer mediums. Some aspects to consider when choosing a material for high heat transfer are heat transfer efficiency, operational life, and pumping power. Vapour pressure buildup, flammability, and toxicity of materials are also crucial parameters as they can affect plant safety.

Considering all these selection criteria, molten salts can replace water and synthetic oils as heat transfer mediums.

Water is widely used for heat transfer because it has high thermal conductivity, density, latent energy, and moderate viscosity. But water can only transfer heat at temperatures less than 100°C because it produces high vapour pressure at its boiling point. 

Synthetic or thermal oils remain as liquids up to 300°C. While these are high temperatures, it’s not enough for the process heating of materials like waste tires. Moreover, the oils have low density and chemical stability; they’re also flammable and can cause high-pressure buildup, a safety risk.

Molten salts make good heat storage and transfer mediums because they have low viscosity, high thermal and electrical conductivity, and good chemical and thermal stability. Since they have a low vapour pressure, they’re also suitable for heat transfer where people want to avoid pressure buildup and reduce the need to use heavy piping.

Molten salts are chemically stable and environmentally friendly as they pose no safety risk. They’re also not toxic when spilled in small quantities.

However, there are a few disadvantages of molten salts.

Many molten salts are corrosive; among them, nitrates are the least corrosive. Molten salts freeze at the solidification temperature, higher than atmospheric temperatures. For the standard molten salt mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate, this temperature is as high as 220 to 240°C. Freezing occurs due to the development of cold spots because of uneven heating or on winter evenings. The resultant salt expansion damages piping and equipment.

Common types of molten salt systems

The three methods of using molten salts for heat transfer are salt baths, circulated molten salts, and direct heating.

  • Salt baths: The molten salts are in an open vessel, and heat transfer occurs through natural convection. Steel heating and quenching use this system, where objects to be heated is in contact with the molten salt mass.
  • Circulating molten salts: Molten salt systems are kept in circulation in a closed-loop as a heat medium for process heating or heat exchange. First, the salts are melted in a salt tank with the help of electricity or fuel. Specially designed pumps keep the molten salts circulating in the loop and return them to the salt tank after the process is over or when the salts need reheating. Solar power plants and pyrolysis of waste tires use this method.
  • Direct heating: Metal assemblies use molten salts for direct heating.

Molten salts at Contec

Industrial applications of molten salt outside energy storage for solar power are just beginning. So is the application of pyrolysis to treat and recycle end-of-life tires to recover economic components, such as recovered Carbon Black, steel, oil, and gas.

Contec is the only recovered Carbon Black producer that has integrated molten salts as a heat transfer medium in its pyrolysis process.

Contec uses molten salts to achieve even heating of waste tire materials to recover consistent quality products. The efficient uptake and release of heat by molten salts reduce Contec’s energy consumption. 

Molten salts are also more economical and can be recycled and used for heat transfer for many years.

In combination with innovative plant design, engineering, and other safety protocols, molten salts have made the Contec pyrolysis process for tire recycling safer, environmentally friendly, and circular. Get in touch to learn more about our sustainable solutions.

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End-of-life tires (ELTs) are a major global waste problem. The tire business has made circular and environmental treatment of waste tires a priority, to recycle and recover raw materials. However, the waste problem still continues. In this article, the environmental impact of waste tires will be discussed and followed by several tire waste statistics that you should be aware of. Gain insightful statistics and information on this rising global waste problem.

ELTs as a source of pollution

What happens to a tire when it’s at the end of its life? ELTs make up nearly 2% of total global waste, and the waste leads to environmental and health hazards due to the improper waste management of ELTs. These tires have become a major source of pollution.

However, technology that can recycle and recover nearly all constituents of tires does exist – natural rubber, synthetic rubber made from plastics, steel, carbon black, zinc, sulfur, etc. We lose these recycled resource opportunities when ELTs are incarcerated, landfilled legally, or stockpiled illegally. 

The European landfill directive 1999/31/EC has spurred efficient treatments to turn ELTs into valuable sources of materials for various tire and engineering and non-engineering applications. As a result, Europe is the world leader in waste tire recycling.

Important tire waste statistics

A thorough deep dive into tire waste statistics provides an overview of the waste problem of ELTs. The problem exists at all angles – from the production of new cars to the volume of waste currently developing in landfills.

Rise of new tires: more waste

Transportation including air flights accounts for 95% of tires, while agriculture uses 5%. In 2021, 75.8 million new cars were sold globally, with imports to the EU accounting for 18.3% of the trade. Car production will reach 98.9 million by 2025. In 2020, the EU had 294 million passenger cars and  41 million trucks. And worldwide, by 2040 we will have 2 billion cars and 790 million trucks. With new car production increasing, it’s obvious that the ELT waste problem will not go away anytime soon.

Tire market statistics

Increasing demand for vehicles has resulted in the increased production of new tires. Tire production was at an all-time high in 2019, before the pandemic. 

In the EU, in 2020, there were 4.2 million tonnes of tires produced. While there are 93 tire production centers in the EU, the region’s import in all categories of tires is higher than its exports. In 2020, 

  • Passenger and light commercial vehicle tires import were 115.9 million and export was 75.2 million tires. 
  • Truck and bus tires import was 5.86 million and export was 5.3 million. 
  • Moto and scooter tires import was 8.83 million and export was 3.2 million. 
  • Agricultural tires import was 5.07 million and export was 0.732 million tires.

To reduce imports, the EU could aim for higher material recovery from tire wastes – and incorporate stronger sustainable reduce, reuse initiatives for ELTs.

ELT waste in volume

ELTs contribute to one billion units of waste each year worldwide and result in 2% of the total amount of solid waste. The EU discards over 300 million car and truck tires each year.

Waste tire management

ELTs sent to landfills have decreased from 50% in 1996 to only 4% or 0.13 million tonnes/year in the EU. The global averages are less significant, with 75% still ending up in landfills. ELT treatments to reduce landfilling include pyrolysis, recycling, retreading, and energy recovery.

About 32 countries in Europe collect 95% of ELTs. In 2019, this amounted to 3.55 million tonnes (Mt), which they treated and used as follows:

1. 54% or 1.95 Mt for material recovery, including recycling and civil engineering applications

  • 40% were recycled: 1.36 Mt for granulation, 476 tonnes for incorporation in cement
  • 3% or 112.95 Mt for civil engineering applications
  • 0.07% or 0.26 Mt for retreading 

2. 40% or 1.43 Mt were for Energy recovery

  • Cement kilns used 1.15 Mt as fuel
  • Power plants and co-incineration with other wastes used 0.1 Mt per year of tires

3. 5% went through miscellaneous processes, including stockpiling

Environmental impact of ELTs

Tire waste impacts the environment through air, water, and soil pollutants, and carbon emissions. When old tires end up in the environment, local wildlife and health concerns are just a few of the many problems that can arise.

Wear and tear waste effects

About 8,768 tonnes of wear and tear wastes end up in the environment, smaller particles are airborne and the heavier ones pollute water and the land:

  • 1040 tonnes or 12% end as air pollutants
  • 5871 tonnes or 67% enter the soil
  • 1043 tonnes or 12% enter waterways
  • 1337 tonnes or 15% end up in the sewers

These wastes result in two types of pollutants – microplastics and particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5):

  • Wear and tear contribute to 5-10% of the microplastic pollution in oceans. Worldwide road and air traffic produce 550,000 tonnes of particles less than 0.01mm, half of which end up in the oceans. This is harmful to aquatic animals, which consume it by mistake, and to people as it enters the food chain.
  • Tire wear and tear produces 3–7% of the global PM2.5, which is a major cause of outdoor air pollution.

ELT tire waste management

The properties that make tires durable can also make them difficult to degrade if ELTs are not treated properly. Globally, two-thirds of the billions of ELTs remain untreated and end up as illegal dumps or landfills. These dumped tires have a negative impact, because they attract rodents, become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and emit chemicals as they decompose slowly.

Piling up millions of tires carries the risk of ignition. Some piles burn for months as they’re difficult to put out, releasing toxic fumes that pollute air and water. There have been over a dozen major tire flares in the USA and countries without proper tire treatment can suffer from many more fires in the future.

Furthermore, in landfills, the chemical 6-PPd added to tires reacts with ground ozone to produce a toxic 100 times more harmful than itself.

Illegally dumped tires in oceans and seas trap marine animals. For example, over 200 hermit crabs get trapped in a tire annually, where they remain stuck and deprived of food.

The good news is that treatments for tire waste have produced measurable environmental benefits. Reusing ELTs and turning them into useful commodities instead can prevent the emission of 613 CO2 kg eq. per metric ton. The environmental, social, and business benefits of tire recycling through pyrolysis include the reduction of

  • human toxicity (HTP) and ozone layer depletion (ODP) by 90%,
  • abiotic depletion (ADP) of fossil fuels and minerals by 84%, and
  • prevents CO2 emissions of 2.5 tonnes CO2 for each tonne of virgin carbon black produced.

Tire waste is a global problem

The waste produced from ELTs has a significant impact on the environment and the health and well-being of humans and wildlife. This global waste problem needs to be addressed at the business level with companies incorporating more sustainable product alternatives into their supply chain. And developing products that start with sustainable solutions.

At Contec, we enable tire manufacturers to do just this – by providing recovered Carbon Black, Oil, and recovered Steel from ELTs as sustainable alternatives to current industrial production. Get in touch to learn more about our sustainable solutions.

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A paradigm shift is occurring in the manufacturing sector moving away from business-as-usual.

Both consumers and stakeholders alike are demanding more sustainable measures — and the manufacturing industry must take note of the shift.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the center of the sustainability discussion, and they have a profound impact on how the industry will make strategic decisions today (and in the future).

In this article, you will learn what the SDGs are, how they impact the manufacturing industry, and how Contec enables an alternative narrative to business-as-usual in the tire industry, specifically.

What are the SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals enacted by the United Nations in 2015 to bring prosperity, peace, and partnership to all people on the planet by 2030. The sustainable development proposed for current and future generations has three dimensions – economic, social, and ecological.

The EU made constructive contributions to the SDGs 2030. The bloc also formulated the new European Green Deal, which included the Circular Economy Action Plan to achieve these goals. However, progress towards the fulfillment of the SDGs has been slow and patchy. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a further setback for many SDGs:

  • Ecological: Greenhouse gas emissions increased during the pandemic, despite a brief respite.
  • Social: The global crisis has increased extreme poverty, and reversed gains in children and women’s rights, health, and education.

Manufacturing SDGs

The manufacturing sector has a major role to play in reaching these benchmarks since they design products and use natural resources during production. The current linear model they use leads to overexploitation of resources and the creation of gigantic quantities of waste. This isn’t aligned with the incentives of the SDGs.

To limit the resultant environmental degradation and pollution, the EU wants companies to adopt the SDGs. The EU introduced the “extended producer responsibility” in 2021, to encourage producers like manufacturers of goods to reuse, recycle, and recover materials before consigning them to landfills, and to strengthen the existing Waste Framework Directive.

The Directive requires businesses to protect human health and the environment, by reducing waste and its adverse effects through efficient management. To reach these goals and also contain the impact of resource use, the EU wants industries to transition to circular economies.

The SDGs can be a strong sustainable framework for the industry to meet its social responsibility goals.

Which SDGs matter the most to manufacturing

The manufacturing sector has a major role to play in reaching these benchmarks since they design products and use natural resources during production. The current linear model they use leads to overexploitation of resources and the creation of gigantic quantities of waste. This isn’t aligned with the incentives of the SDGs.

To limit the resultant environmental degradation and pollution, the EU wants companies to adopt the SDGs. The EU introduced the “extended producer responsibility” in 2021, to encourage producers like manufacturers of goods to reuse, recycle, and recover materials before consigning them to landfills, and to strengthen the existing Waste Framework Directive.

The Directive requires businesses to protect human health and the environment, by reducing waste and its adverse effects through efficient management. To reach these goals and also contain the impact of resource use, the EU wants industries to transition to circular economies.

The SDGs can be a strong sustainable framework for the industry to meet its social responsibility goals.

Which SDGs matter the most to manufacturing

So, what SDGs are relevant for manufacturing? Individual businesses in the manufacturing sector can help fulfill their sustainability commitment by focusing on the following SDGs:

  • SDG 7: Increase the use of renewable fuels and cleaner fossil fuel technologies.
  • SDG 8: Encourage the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and enhance their role in regional, national, and global supply chains.
  • SDG 9: Develop and use innovation and new technology that support circular and bio-economy.
  • SDG 12: Producers and manufacturers can redesign products and reduce the use of natural resources to make production sustainable.
  • SDG 13: Reduce the carbon footprint of the manufacturing and supply chain.
  • SDG 17: Forge partnerships within the private sector and between private and public sectors to implement new sustainable business models.

Impact of the circular economy on the industry

Companies embracing these SDGs must not only attract and retain customers but also investors and employees. Often, their operation licenses depend on their commitment to sustainability. All in all, we see companies taking corporate social responsibility more seriously. 

Many industry pioneers are turning to the circular economy too, based on the cradle-to-cradle philosophy, to rethink production and achieve sustainability. This new business model incorporates waste recovery into product design and removes the root causes of unsustainable environmental degradation and exploitation.

New patterns of ownership and consumption to support the circular economy are also emerging, such as

  • Retaining ownership of the products and collecting them after use to access raw materials.
  • Extending product life coupled with premium pricing to outcompete cheaper but low-quality products.

Several companies around the globe use the biological or technical cycles of the C-2-C approach. And the UN also recommends using circular solutions to achieve the SDGs for manufacturing and production.

Supporting companies with the SDGs

Contec is a forward-thinking company, enabling the tire industry to become circular and carbon-neutral, and solving the major waste problem of end-of-life tires.

Contec uses pyrolysis, one of the few technologies available to recover material from waste tires, to produce recovered Carbon Black and pyrolytic oil. The recovered Carbon Black can provide up to 25% of the resources needed to make new tires

By providing alternatives to virgin materials, Contec can support major tire producers like Michelin and Bridgestone in reaching their SDGs and carbon reduction targets.

Contec’s technology and own commitment to sustainability provide tire manufacturers with alternative clean solutions for their own sustainable commitment. These are just a few of the SDGs that Contec is working on to achieve as a company – and that it can support partners to achieve, too.

  • SDG 3 – Good health and well-being: The Contec pyrolysis method makes life healthier for nearby communities and workers by replacing incineration of ELT that produced hazardous, toxic, and carcinogenic gases. This reduces the number of deaths and illnesses earlier caused by air, water, and land pollution.
  • SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation: Contec is improving the quality of local water bodies, by reducing the dumping of tire wastes and pollution by hazardous chemicals.
  • SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy: Contec uses the sustainable pyrolytic gas produced during the waste tire treatment, instead of fossil fuels, in its factory as an energy source. Next, Contec aims to provide that clean energy to other local manufacturing plants.
  • SDG 9 – Industry, innovation, and infrastructure: Contec has introduced many proprietary innovations to its pyrolysis process, which has improved resource-use efficiency, product quality, and operational safety. It’s also an environmentally friendly and clean technology.
  • SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production: Contec’s circular model produces secondary raw materials, ensuring that tire producers become sustainable by reducing the use of fossil fuels, exploitation of natural resources, and environmental degradation.
  • SDG 13 – Climate action: Contec helps in climate action by reducing the carbon footprint of the tire manufacturing sector and its supply chain, since each tonne of ELT diverted from incineration prevents the emission of 700 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • SDG 15 – Life on land: By replacing tire incineration, the Contec process reduces the production of chemicals that pollute the freshwater bodies and degrade the land.

SDGs in manufacturing

Innovations in resource recovery and circular models in the automotive industries are two of 60 sectors where SDGs will provide economic returns. SDGs could open up opportunities worth $12 trillion in four sectors, including materials and energy, and save $26 trillion through climate action. Thus, the SDGs present not only goals but also opportunities for new growth in manufacturing.

By following the SDG guidelines, manufacturers can reduce their impact on climate change – and drive sustainable action in their companies. At Contec, we provide sustainable recovered Carbon Black, Oil, and Steel for various applications in several industries. For more information about regulations, subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter to receive industry-related information about the circular economy in manufacturing.

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Heat transfer systems are vital for pyrolysis as they improve the process, product quality, and production costs. 

There are five main types of heat transfer systems for pyrolysis. This article compares these five systems and elaborates on why molten salts usage is the most effective and safe form of heat transfer for waste tire pyrolysis.

What are the different types of heat transfer?

Heat transfer occurs when energy transferred from a warmer source heats a cooler object. There are three different mechanisms by which this energy transfer can occur, but a difference in temperature between the source and object is essential for all of them. Conduction, convection, and radiation are the three mechanisms of heat transfer.

Conduction involves energy transfer between molecules in direct contact. Heat energy gets transferred when molecules hit each other. Conduction can occur in solids, liquids, and air. It’s most common in solids, as molecules are closely packed, but some solids are better heat conductors than others, for example, metal is a better conductor than wood.

Convection is the heat transfer through the movement of a fluid, which can be a gas or liquid. When a fluid is heated, its molecules will move faster and away from each other. So the bulk motion of heated fluid carries the heat energy it contains in currents. Fluid movements can be natural or forced. When you boil a pot of water, the water is heated by convection. The warm air movement from the hot pot is also due to convection.

Radiation refers to the transfer of heat energy by electromagnetic waves, usually infrared and visible wavelengths, and doesn’t require any medium. The surface of a hot object emits heat energy that a cold object absorbs. For example, people standing by fire get warm on the side facing the fire but not on the other side.

Industrial heat transfer systems can simultaneously use more than one of these mechanisms.

What is a heat transfer system – and when is it used?

Heat transfer systems, also called thermal transfer systems, provide indirect heat to processes using a thermal transfer fluid.

The system uses gas or liquid, to transfer heat away from a heat source. The heat transfer fluid remains circulating, carrying heat from the energy source to cold streams and returning to the heat source for reheating. The use of heat transfer systems can reduce the number of heat sources needed.

Heat transfer systems allow for both heating and cooling and act as a temperature control unit.

All heat transfer systems involve convection, but the source of energy that heats them will determine whether conduction, radiation, or both are involved.

Heat transfer systems are necessary when processes require high temperature, even heating, and good temperature control. A well-designed high-temperature heat transfer system should have thermal and chemical stability, heat transfer efficiency, and low environmental impact. Typical fluids are thermal oils, water, glycol, or water-glycol mixtures.

The choice and flow rate of the heat transfer fluids are essential features of a heat transfer system. A heat transfer fluid must have good viscosity, thermal stability, expansion rate, flash and fire points, and oxidation resistance.

The ability to maintain a narrow range of even temperatures makes heat transfer systems ideal for pyrolysis, a thermochemical process.

During pyrolysis of end-of-life tires (ELTs) for recycling, synthetic rubber and Carbon Black are broken down into smaller and simpler compounds. Temperature influences how the polymers react; therefore, temperature control is crucial.

Moreover, the quality and the fraction of pyrolysis products from waste tires—recovered Carbon Black, steel, oil, and gas—depend on the temperature and heating rate.

The five types of heat transfer systems

The heat transfer system and mode of operation are the two criteria used to classify waste tire pyrolysis processes. There are five high-temperature heat transfer systems for pyrolysis: electricity, flue gases, microwaves, molten metals, and molten salts.

Electricity

One of the most widely used heat transfer systems for pyrolysis is electricity. Electricity use is common in kiln rotary reactors, auger or screw pyrolysers, and batch-type stirred pyrolysers. However, electricity is an expensive energy source and makes the whole process uneconomical. 

Flue gases

These gases are obtained from combustion plants and contain fuel combustion products like carbon dioxide, water vapour, heavy metals, and residual compounds such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter.

With flue gas, it’s possible to get high outlet temperatures up to 1200°C. However, additional pollution control technologies are necessary to remove the residual compounds. This energy source is also not safe due to the risk of gas escape and fires. Fixed bed reactor and fluidised bed pyrolysis plants use flue gas. 

Microwaves

The use of microwaves for pyrolysis is still in the early stages of development. Microwave heating has several advantages, as it can provide temperatures as high as 800°C, even heating, and easy control.

It is well suited for continuous pyrolysis and fixed bed reactors that improve pyrolysis efficiency and economics. Efforts are on in research institutes and companies to scale-up microwave pyrolysis. Pilot projects show that it is a promising technology, but many technical challenges still need to be overcome. 

Molten metal 

Liquid metals have high thermal conductivity up to 1,000°C and low viscosity, fulfilling two main criteria for heat transfer systems.

Typical molten metals are alkali metals (lithium, sodium, potassium, and their alloys), heavy metals (lead, bismuth, and their alloys), and the so-called fusible alloys (gallium, cadmium, indium, tin, thallium, and their alloys). They’re primarily utilised in solar concentrating power plants and nuclear plants.

However, molten metals are toxic, flammable, and corrosive. The complex and unique engineering requirements to handle them increase capital investments, limiting their widespread use. For example, heavy piping is necessary to transport these molten metals.  

Molten salts

Phase-change salts that remain liquid when heated are called molten salts. These can be chlorides, carbonates, nitrates, nitrites, and fluorides that can reach 1,000°C. They have a high thermal capacity, low viscosity, and moderate density. Molten salts flow like water and are easy to pump, reducing operational costs. 

Molten salt usage is ideal for pyrolysis, as it has a high heat efficiency, taking and giving heat energy with minor losses. For tire pyrolysis, molten salts usage is found in continuous, fluidised, screw, rotary, and fixed bed reactors.

The salts are safe for people, posing no fire or pressure build-up risks. Molten salts are sustainable; they can be reused for many years and have the same composition as fertilisers.

Contec: molten salts usage in pyrolisis

Compared with the other available heat transfer systems, molten salts usage gives even heating, consumes less energy, is cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and has a solid safety record for people.

Choosing a heat transfer system depends on the temperature, heating rate, and product mix required. Contec pyrolysis relies on molten salts usage to produce consistent quality rCB.

Because of its circular and safe performance, molten salts also meet clean environmental standards set by the EU for ELT recycling processes. For more information about molten salts, subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter to receive industry-related information about the circular economy in manufacturing.

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