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This company wants no more vicious cycles, just a virtuous one.
By taking a dirty old product like a used rubber tire and recycling it using zero-emissions technology into something you’d eventually be proud to put on your vehicle, that’s the virtuous cycle Smart Tire Recycling (STR) is hoping to create.
Right now, too many of the world’s tires get dumped into landfills at the end of their natural life due to ineffective recycling incentives. Only about 15% of the approximately 1 billion tires discarded annually end up getting recycled, STR claims.
In addition, questions remain over the long-term viability of current recycling methods such as pyrolysis, says STR. Pyrolysis decomposes materials such as rubber at high temperatures in an inert atmosphere.
The Pittsburgh-based start-up has an alternative vision — extract the carbon black so vital to tire production from old rubber using patented green technology. That way, you have a much-needed product that bypasses the harvesting of expensive rubber while being earth-friendly at the same time.
“Our vision is to transform the toxicity of tire pollution into a virtuous cycle which restores the health of our planet,” says Mendel Bassman, co-Founder and CEO.
Fewer Toxic Tires
Most current tire production is toxic. As well as using petrochemical and coal feedstocks in its production, mining carbon black causes emissions such as carbon monoxide and methane, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. About 80% of the world’s mined carbon black goes into tire production. It’s no secret that the country has wanted to diminish its impact on the environment, pledging to go carbon neutral in the next 30 years thanks to their verbal agreement with China at the COP26 UK climate conference. The push to go green is no longer becoming an option, but a necessity.
If you can recover the necessary carbon black from the old tire using much greener technology, you might have a solution.
By using supercritical pressure and temperature water technology, STR says it has just such an answer. The company’s solution creates faster production of recovered carbon black (rCB) as well as higher caliber yield, the company claims. And it creates zero emissions while doing so.
rCB is much in demand. Only about 7% of what the U.S. tire industry needs, for example, is currently being produced, STR says.
Tire Giants Looking at rCB Too
Major tire producers like Bridgestone Corp. BRDCY began scaled production of rCB 2 years ago. Korean producer Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. (KSE: 161390.KS) is another tire giant interested in rCB.
As well as the rCB, STR’s technology produces recovered oil and steel. The company is able to sell both the rCB and received oil at a premium, it says.
Now, the challenge is making it all commercially viable, taking it from the laboratory to an eventual shop floor.
“We have proven the viability of our production process at lab scale and we are currently in the process of developing our first demonstration plant in order to scale to full commercial capabilities,” the company says.
STR is currently in a crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine. Learn more here.
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