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Fast-pyrolysis process recovers valuable materials from tires

By Gerald Ondrey |

Each year, more than 1 billion automobile tires are replaced worldwide. Together, the used tires contain 4.4 million metric tons of valuable products, such as carbon black, metals, fuels and chemicals. In an effort to recover these materials, the University of Twente (Enschede, the Netherlands; www.utwente.nl) and Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH (Hannover, Germany; www.continental-reiden.de) are developing a new fast pyrolysis process that decomposes used tires at high temperatures in a matter of seconds. In the process (diagram), tires are first pretreated to remove metal, fibers and textiles, and the rubber is milled to centimeter-sized granules. A screw feeder continuously feeds rubber granulate to a flash-liquification reactor, operating at a temperature of around 500°C. With residence times of a few seconds, the rubber is converted into pyrolysis gas and solids, explains project leader Gerrit Brem, professor of Thermal Engineering at Twente. The solids are recovered by a cyclone and the gas is condensed into fuel oil and non-condensable fuel gas. Although the product yield depends on the operating conditions, Brem estimates that a given feed yields about 35 wt.% carbon black, 20 wt.% gas and 45 wt.% condensable oil. “Unique…
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