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NSW soon to be home to world's first waste tyre to energy facility

THE world's first commercial plant recovering energy from end-of-life tyres, which is being built by Green Distillation Technologies (GDT) in Warren, central NSW, will be operational by the end of the year.

Jacqueline Ong
NSW soon to be home to world's first waste tyre to energy facility

GDT will then turn its attention to the Stawell region in western Victoria next year, where one of the largest tyre dumps in the country - an estimated nine million tyres litter the site on Horsham Road - can be found.

All up, GDT plans to build seven commercial plants across Australia within the next four years. The company already has five smaller-scale plants used to demonstrate the Destructive Distillation technology.

GDT director Trevor Bayley told Inside Waste News that the company is fielding interest from overseas as well, in places such as Malaysia, New Zealand and New York.

Bayley, who presented at the Waste Management Association of Australia's (WMAA) National Energy from Waste Symposium in Lorne last month, told delegates that the process, which uses controlled heat to reduce whole tyres to their constituent elements, is able to recover a large percentage of saleable raw materials.

He said that the process can recover 40% carbon, 35% oil and about 15% steel per tonne of tyre per year. About 10% of the tyre is lost in the process.

This means that saleable commodities account for 90% of the plant's feedstock weight.

Bayley also revealed that the Warren plant will be able to process about 20,000 tyres annually or about 75 tyres an hour.

The plant will be designed in modular form, so operations will be scaled, Bayley said, and each plant will have six modules comprising two processing tubes each, totalling 12 tubes per plant.

In a nutshell, the process involves stacking up to 10 tyres in an oxygen-free heating tube where hot gases are circulated (see figure 1) and the process takes an hour, including loading and unloading.

GDT said that the oil produced can be used as heating fuel or can be further refined into engine fuels.

Meanwhile, the carbon produced is a high-grade product that can be used as a substitute to carbon sourced from fossil fuels and the steel will be returned to the scrap steel industries.

To date, the vast majority of tyres are dumped, exported, stockpiled or sent to landfill, with only 16% of waste tyres recycled into products such as road surfaces.

In Queensland, Chip Tyre subsidiary Blew Chip has patented an explosive that uses rubber crumb to replace fuel oil that makes up part of traditional explosives.

However, tyre stockpiling continues to be a major challenge across the country - one only needs to look at Stawell to understand the gravity of the issue - and a few states, such as Victoria and NSW, have recently introduced new rules including lowering the storage threshold of tyre recyclers.

Additionally, a new national tyre waste program managed by Tyre Stewardship Australia began on July 1, aimed at developing new technologies and products for the use of waste tyres.

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