Partnership aims to develop tyre recycling technology

Article by Amanda Jasi

MICHELIN and Scandinavian Enviro Systems (Enviro) are planning to join forces to develop Enviro’s patented pyrolysis technology for waste tyre recycling, and to build a plant for the technology.

Globally, about 1bn tyres reach the end of their life each year, and only 40% are recycled. The remaining waste tyres are either incinerated to generate energy (about 49%) or landfilled (at least 11%). Enviro’s technology allows for the recovery of carbon black (a central component of rubber and tyre manufacture), oil, steel, and gas, from waste tyres. The company supplies recycled carbon black to the automotive industry for tyre manufacture.

A further benefit of the process includes carbon emissions savings. According to a joint study by Enviro and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL), an independent research body, each kilogramme of Enviro’s recovered carbon black that replaces virgin carbon black reduces total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 1.43–2 kg. A standard-sized Enviro plant (30,000 t/y) would enable recovery of 9,000 t/y of carbon black, which could reduce emissions by 12,900–18,000 t if it replaced virgin product.

The planned partnership would involve a joint project to develop a factory to industrialise the process. The facility, for which the location has not yet been decided, would be jointly owned. Additionally, the companies would work together to expand the possibilities of materials that are recycled using Enviro’s process.

Thomas Sörensson, CEO of Enviro, said: “By further developing our technology, we will also be able to recycle other finite and strategic materials, as well as expanding the area of use for the recovered carbon black, so that it can be used for more products.”

The companies expect that combining their respective know-how will allow them to accelerate progress in tyre recycling. Michelin will contribute its industrial know-how to plant construction, as well as its knowledge in research and development and production. Enviro is providing its patented technology.

The partnership between Enviro and Michelin would also involve a joint supply agreement and an agreement to deploy Enviro’s pyrolysis technology on a larger scale. 

As part of the planned agreement, Michelin recently acquired of a 20% stake in Enviro (equivalent to 116,165,223 shares) for SEK32.5m (US$3.4m). The acquisition makes Michelin the technology company’s largest stakeholder. A portion of the sale proceeds will be invested in the plant.

Alf Blomqvist, Chairman of the Board at Enviro, said: “Michelin is one of the world’s leading tyre manufacturers and this collaboration means that we can become established globally in a way that we would never have managed alone.”

Currently the companies are working together as per a letter of intent announced on 15 April. Discussions are ongoing, and they aim to conclude a final agreement by mid-2020.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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