Melbourne-based company VR TEK and Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) have developed a new tyre recycling technology which is said to help significantly reduce the 20 million or so used tyres disposed of in Australia each year.
The new recycling process, developed in partnership with Deakin University and the CSIRO, was part of a A$516,000 Federal Government research project funded through the Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.
The project also received support from the Victorian Government’s partnership with the CSIRO and Deakin University through the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing.
The new process is considered to be an economically and environmentally sustainable method to recycle tyres. It addresses long-standing issues of recycling metal content in shredded tyres.
The process involves the use of a device, developed by VR TEK with CSIRO, which segments old tyres into sections of specific known material composition, including metal parts in shredded tyres.
The mechanical segmenting method is the first part of a process developed by Deakin University.
The process allows used tyres to be turned back into high quality rubber powders free of metal contamination.
Metal-free powder is suitable for redevelopment as new products, such as rubber and elasto-polymer based items.
The rubber crumb produced by the new process is also said to be cheaper than ‘virgin rubber’.
The VR TEK tyre recycling project is considered to be an example of how innovation can help boost commercial competitiveness and productivity, while also delivering broader benefits such as reduced waste and energy consumption, according to Victorian Manufacturing, Exports and Trade Minister Richard Dalla-Riva.
The project is part of the CRC program, an Australian Government initiative which has seen over A$3.4 bn in investments to over 190 CRCs across a range of sectors.
CRC participants have contributed a further A$10.9bn in cash and support.