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‘Huge untapped potential’ for recycled tyres’ carbon black

Pyrolysis could unlock several million tonnes of carbon black from end-of-life tyres (ELTs) – provided pyrolysis plants deliver the required quality recycled materials, recyclers have been told.

‘With tyres being composed of an average of 30% carbon black, together with tyre manufacturers looking at using up to 100% sustainable materials, there is a huge untapped potential in recycled carbon black (RCB) from pyrolysis operations,’ said Max Craipeau of Greencore Resources and chairman of the BIR Tyres and Rubber division.

Craipeau told the latest BIR tyres & rubber division webinar: ‘We are talking about several million tonnes of recycled carbon black per year, potentially.’  But this ‘unprecedented opportunity’ depended on pyrolysis plants ‘managing to get the right quality and consistency that are required by the tyre manufacturers,’ he pointed out.

But he was convinced that demand for high-quality RCB will grow to enable tyre manufacturers to meet sustainability targets.

‘Tyre makers especially like RCB because they can use it in very diverse applications and in several compounds,’ RCB expert Martin von Wolfersdorff, told the session. Although supply was currently low, he said RCB was well-placed because a growing number of tyre manufacturers ‘are now starting to look more at ecology than economy’.

Participants heard that pyrolysis is a long-established technology. Many early entrants had focused on selling the fuel obtained from ELTs rather than on the carbon black because of quality obstacles. Consistently achieving the specific requirements of each individual end user was vital, so close communication was needed between stakeholders.

Germano Carreira, ceo of BB&G-Alternative Worldwide Environmental Solutions ,believed that, in the near future, there was scope for RCB prices to exceed those of virgin carbon black in certain applications. With carbon neutrality goals pushing customers in the direction of more sustainable materials, ‘there is a great opportunity and I think we are in the right place,’ he added.

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