Australian tyre recycler Green Distillation Technologies and New Zealand’s CarbonScape have been nominated in the Environmental Achievement of the Year category in the annual Tire Technology International Awards.
The Awards, which are now in their twelfth year, are judged by an independent panel of journalists and independent experts who are familiar with the latest tyre industry developments around the world. The Awards will be announced at a gala dinner at the Tire Technology Expo in Hannover, Germany on February 26.
Green Distillation Technology has developed a world-first tyre recycling process that turns end-of-life car, truck and oversize tyres into high-value oil, carbon and steel. CarbonScape, based in Marlborough, New Zealand has developed patented technology turning sawdust and waste biomass into high purity, high-value carbon products, including graphite.
While CarbonScape’s work on sawdust continues, it has been discovered that the carbon produced by GDT’s tyre recycling technology is highly compatible with CarbonScape’s process for producing graphite.
Graphite is a non-metallic mineral and the most stable form of carbon. It is chemically inert, corrosion resistant with a high melting point of 3650°C and is a good conductor of electricity.
China is the world’s leading producer of fossil sourced graphite, and its reserves are the second largest worldwide, behind Turkey. However, the industry is under significant environmental pressure due to its mining and purification techniques, and CarbonScape presents a sustainable “green” alternative.
Graphite is defined as a ‘critical strategic mineral’ in the USA and Europe, and global demand is growing at 5.8% p.a. to 4.2 million tonnes which was worth USD30 billion to 2018. Within the global graphite market, high purity graphite for Li-ion batteries is forecast to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 26% to 2029 with pricing estimates of USD5,000 per tonne.
As well as Li-ion batteries for use in electric vehicles and stationary storage, potential end-use of high purity graphite includes solar panels, supercapacitors and other electronic applications.
GDT operate a tyre processing plant at Warren in Western New South Wales, which is where the work on the future co-development of graphite will take place, and they are in the capital fundraising stage. Their second commercial plant will be in Toowoomba, Southern Queensland, which has secured all the necessary Government approvals and they have plans for more plants in Wagga, Geelong, Elizabeth, Collie and Gladstone.
They have also signed an agreement worth up to US$100 million for ten plants in the United States and a $50 million deal for five tyre recycling facilities in South Africa.
GDT Chief Operating Officer Trevor Bayley said that the award nomination is pleasing as it is an international recognition for the team, which has developed innovative world-first technology (sic) that could help solve a massive global environmental problem.
He said that the key to operating a successful recycling business in the era of the circular economy is to maximise the return received from the materials that are produced.
“We have a refinery contract for all the oil we produce as it is regarded as light crude and easy to refine into petrol, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum products and of course the current world price for oil is very high. Our carbon is high quality and can be used in a variety of products such as printer’s ink, computer cartridges and even cosmetics.
“Now, with Carbonscape and by enhancing the carbon to graphite, we could sell it for multiples of the current price, which is a very significant difference.
“Our Technical Director Denis Randall, who developed our process, has long advocated that ‘Resource Recovery’ is the key to successful recycling and the direction we are taking is consistent with those aims,” he said.