Recycled tyres are overlooked as a biofuel source
Oil from recycled tyres processed by GDT at Warren, New South Wales has been overlooked as a potential biofuel source, yet it is the most reliable and easiest to refine of all, according to oil expert Tim Rose of Southern Oil.
According to Tim Rose the future potential of this source of feedstock is immense, in fact preferable to other bio-oils from plants such as corn or algae plus it reduces dependence on imported fuel and it is an excellent example of converting an environmental waste problem into a valuable raw material.
Southern Oil has operated a refinery at Wagga Wagga since 2001 that processes 38 per cent of Australia’s collected waste lube oil and is in the process of building an advanced $16 million biofuels plant at Gladstone, Queensland.
Tim Rose said: “The first ‘trickle’ of oil is now being provided to us by the Green Distillation Technologies tyre recycling plant at Warren under a supply contract we signed this year as they now have their first processing vessel operating pending approval by the environmental authorities after which they can expand their production.
“We have found that the oil they are providing is quite easy to convert to diesel fuel as the main refining step we have to make is the removal of the sulphur, but in time it could become a suitable feedstock for automotive petrol and even jet fuel.
“However, initially we plan to use it as the raw material for diesel fuel for stationary engines, but as the volume increases in time we will build a specialist refinery at Gladstone to just handle the oil from this source.
“This is in line with Green Distillation Technologies plans for ten tyre recycling plants around Australia and they are already advanced in ramping up the volume at their existing plant, plus another in Tasmania and a specialist plant in Perth to process oversize tyres, mainly from the mining industry,” Tim Rose said.
Green Distillation Technologies Chief Executive Craig Dunn said that they were already recycling end of life 10 kg car tyres that each yield 4kg of carbon, 1.5kg of steel and 4 litres of oil and while the 70kg truck tyre provides 28 kg of carbon, 11 kg of steel and 28 litres of oil.
“We are going through the materials handling logistics planning to process oversize tyres such as those from mining dump trucks that weigh 3.5 tonnes and will yield 1500 litres of oil, 1.5 tonnes of carbon, as well as the steel reinforcing which will go back to the tyre manufacturer for reuse,” he said.
Worldwide end-of-life tyres estimated to be one billion a year and going up
It has been estimated that there are one billion end-of-life tyres entering the waste stream every year and that figure is rising as auto ownership in India and China increases.
That figure comes from University of New South Wales Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of the University’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology.
The US is the largest producer of waste tyres with 290 million a year compared to Australia 24 million.
Tyres are one of the very few man made products that have remained substantially the same since the pneumatic tyre was invented by John Boyd Dunlop in 1887 for his son’s tricycle. Sure they have got fatter to give more grip and road contact, no longer need an inner tubes and last longer than they did fifty years ago, but they still essentially do the same job.
Unfortunately, building tyres to last has resulted in a major environmental problem as discarded tyre dumps are a risk of fire, can become a health hazard through the spread of mosquito carried diseases, or are an atmospheric hazard if burnt as furnace fuel,
In the period since the tyre was invented no satisfactory method of disposal of end-of-life tyres has been found, until Denis Randall developed the ‘destructive distillation’ process that is used by Green Distillation Technologies.
GDT carbon being investigated in ‘green steelmaking’ research
Carbon from the GTD ‘destructive distillation’ process is being used in a new experimental ‘green steelmaking’ process under development at the University of New South Wales.
In the process, called Polymer Injection Technology, the carbon is mixed with coke and crumbed rubber as the carbon injectant for slag foaming that is essential in modern steelmaking process.
The team headed by Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of the University’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology, said that the work with the GDT carbon is still in the test stages to determine optimal blends.
Professor Sahajwalla said that her ambition to transform waste into valuable resources goes back to her childhood in Mumbai when she used to walk past huge mountains of garbage on her way to school.
“This waste supported communities of rubbish pickers so I imagined what it would take to convert ‘rubbish’ into something more valuable like a resource for steelmaking.
“The world’s waste mountains are packed with materials that contain valuable elements like carbon. hydrogen, silicon and metals that we would otherwise source from virgin raw materials.
“That was the idea of looking at waste tyres as a potential resource as they are a valuable raw material,“ Professor Sahajwalla said.
GTD technology on display to the world’s at MinExpo – the biggest mining show
MinExpo, the world’s mining biggest show, is held every four years and this year it will be held in Las Vegas over three days from September 26.
Tytec Recycling, the company with which GDT is in partnership in the development of a plant to recycle ‘Off the Road’ (OTR) oversize tyres, such as those used on the giant mining dump trucks, has a stand at MinExpo and is taking the GDT approach to tyre recycling with them.
Tytec has a small booth sandwiched between the mining giants Caterpillar and Komatsu stands. These companies are indicative of the type of representation at MinEx that brings together the biggest mining equipment, supply and management in the world.
GDT is currently involved in a logistics exercise at Warren to work out how to handle the oversize tyres that weigh up to four tonnes. This work is necessary before proceeding with the construction of a special OTR processing plant in Perth in 2017 for which the site has already been purchased.
As well as mining, oversize tyres also include those used on large agricultural machines like tractors and road making equipment and of the 51 million end-of-life tyres (ELTs) generated in Australia each year 39 per cent are oversize tyres and less than five per cent are currently recycled by any method, with the majority going to landfill or are buried on the mine site.
Tytec Logistics manages about 90 per cent of the very large OTR tyres in Australia and provides logistics, storage and remanufacturing services.
The potential recycling rewards are tantalising because GDT estimates that a tyre weighing 4 tonnes will yield 1740 litres of oil, 1.6 tonnes of carbon, and 0.8 tonnes of steel which will go back to the tyre manufacturer for reuse.
Thailand is the first international venture
Thailand is poised to become GDT’s first international venture.
Already senior representatives of the Thai Government Board of Investment and several Thai companies have visited the Warren plant on several occasions to see for themselves that the GDT process actually works.
GDT Asia is run by Jason Dunn, the younger brother of CEO Craig, who has lived in Japan and Thailand for more than 15 years and over the last four years has been responsible for securing the approval for the building of five plants and is now very close to securing a Joint Venture Agreement with a major Thai publicly listed entity to commence building the first plant.
Thailand is a major auto manufacturer and rubber producer and their Universities are keen to work with the GDT process to explore how the recycled elements can be used in tyre manufacturing.
Latest addition to GDT Warren
Jude Owen Cox is the latest addition to GDT Warren, when on 9 August he was born at the Dubbo Base Hospital to proud parents Zac and Caitlin.
Zac joined the Warren team in August 2015 as a Chemical Engineer to assist Denis Randall and he and Caitlin moved to the town from Pakenham, Victoria.
Caitlin, who is an interior designer has turned her hand to many things in Warren ranging from being an assistant at the bakery to working in the Bottle O’ bottle shop.
They are both very active members of the GDT Warren community as the organisers and participants in the mixed basketball team and the recent ‘duck’ racing on the river, when you release a marked rubber ducky at the bridge and the first to reach the next bridge downstream is the winner.