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Working ‘tyrelessly’ for the environment


An environmentally-friendly method of recycling tyres, which would help solve a growing waste problem across the globe, could soon be on the way thanks to some new technology supported by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) – the organisation that champions UK innovation and creativity.

NESTA have invested £70,000 from its Invention and Innovation programme, in UTDR Research, based in Flintshire, North Wales, who are developing the new recycling system. The driving force behind the project is Richard Hutchins, who has worked in the tyre industry for over 16 years and has spent 10 years researching the waste tyre problem.

A total of one waste tyre per adult, per year is produced in developed countries. Every year in the UK alone, over 32 million car tyres and 3.8 million scrap truck tyres are produced. This amounts to around 380,000 tonnes of tyres to be disposed of every year. At present, 190,000 tonnes of these waste tyres are disposed of in landfill sites, which as well being a public health risk, are also under the constant threat of large unmanageable fires. With an EC directive banning this method of disposal by June 2006, there is a pressing need to find alternatives.

UTDR Research has developed a machine which can recycle tyres in an environmentally-sound fashion. Their method also converts the waste into marketable by-products, ie. carbon, oil, steel and gases which can produce revenue for the business. The system uses a distillation principle to break down the product into its constituent parts.

The company is also developing the design of a mobile unit which may be mounted on an articulated trailer and transported to large deposits of tyres. The tyres will be processed on site, reducing the cost of shipping and the amount of trucks required to remove the tyres – a major environmental improvement. Richard Hutchins of UTDR said: “With the amount of waste tyres set to increase by nearly 100% by 2021, there is an urgent need to find a solution to recycling this waste in the most sustainable method possible – UTDR Research can provide this much needed service.”

Mark White, NESTA Invention and Innovation Director, added: “NESTA is committed to supporting innovative ideas that can help build a greener, more sustainable future. The UTDR team have found a novel way of dealing with a growing environmental problem and we’re delighted to be providing the seed-investment to help the company develop their tyre disposal system through its first crucial phase.”

Joseph Meaney | alfa
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