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CSIRO working hard to create new method of recycling tyres

05 May, 2009

CSIRO is working with Australian company VR TEK Operations to design and develop a new, improved method of recycling waste rubber which could be used to make new tyres, industrial insulation, road pavement, flooring or geotextiles for retaining walls and embankments.

Each year about one billon tyres are discarded around the world with most ending up in landfill.

Tyres are almost impossible to recycle economically and create health and environmental hazards when burned. Given that global demand for rubber currently exceeds supply, industry’s inability to economically recycle tyres also represents lost opportunities in terms of potential resource efficiency and conservation gains.

As part of an Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre project, CSIRO is collaborating with VR TEK to develop new technologies designed to reduce waste tyres to devulcanised and activated high quality rubber powders that can be used to manufacture new rubber products.

CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering scientist Barrie Finnin says CSIRO and VR TEK recently succeeded in segmenting a tyre into specific pieces using a cutting mechanism built to VR TEK’s design.

“This is a very positive first step in a three-stage process and CSIRO is delighted to be part of a project that is enabling an Australian company to pioneer the commercially and environmentally sustainable recycling of tyres,” Finnin says.

“The next two stages will involve devulcanisation and activation of rubber to produce the resultant high quality rubber powders.”

VR TEK Managing Director, Michael Vainer, says the rubber powders to be produced from the process could be turned into many commercially viable products.

“Not only is there commercial potential for all these new products, recycling rubber is a cheaper and more energy efficient option than producing virgin materials,” Vainer says.

It is expected that the next two stages of the project will begin shortly.

This project between VR TEK and CSIRO receives funding support from the Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (AMCRC) and the Victorian Government, through the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM).

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