Removing Complex Barriers to Recovered Carbon Black Production

March 2021

Recovered Carbon Black (rCB) has long been considered as the environmentally friendly alternative to virgin carbon black. Yet rCB production requires a complex array of processes and significant investment in production machinery, chemistry expertise and laboratory equipment.

For the average tyre recycler this is a bridge too far and, unsurprisingly, even with the honeyed words and offer of support from the technology providers many have been put off. As an impact rCB supply has been limited and the rubber sector’s confidence in production and the material has remained low.

Complex rCB production

Fulfilling the entire process is a huge and complex undertaking. From effective tyre sorting, shredding and pyrolysis, processing of pyrolysed raw char, and upgrading to rCB itself, resulting in only a handful of large players in this sector. As such, there is limited supply of rCB material for plastics and rubber manufacturers to utilise. The vast majority of existing tyre pyrolysis operations have not taken the difficult step to produce rCB.

With 1.7 million tonnes of virgin carbon black used across Europe and 13.5 million globally, the need to move towards a greener carbon black solution is critical. Yet there is a vast under supply, given the process complexities and need for significant investment in production machinery, laboratory testing equipment, and skilled personnel. If only left to the largest players with deep pockets, rCB will never reach critical mass. The result being that the rubber and plastics industry continue to miss out on a sizeable chunk of the sustainability prize.

Tyre pyrolysis operators

Tyre recyclers have long been offered the prospect of increased revenue streams, by pyrolysis equipment providers who have developed their own bespoke tyre pyrolysis machines. However, in doing so, the tyre recyclers were thrown into a world requiring them to invest significant sums into laboratories and manufacturing equipment for production, bring in specialist chemistry knowledge, as well as having sales and marketing prowess.

For many, it has been a step too far, ensuring the large supply of rCB never materialised. For those recyclers that did invest in tyre pyrolysis not realising the work involved in turning raw char into rCB, it left them without a solution for their pyrolysis output.

Now we find a situation where there are many pyrolysis operators seeking a destination for their raw tyre char. As a consequence, across the world much of this tyre char has ended up in land fill or cement kilns.

Waverly Carbon recognised the opportunity to provide a solution for the substantial quantities of tyre char available and focused its sole attention on the conversion of the raw char to high quality rCB.

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