This is a post about a very special aspect: the possibility to create circular flows for Black Carbon, one of the oldest manufactured materials. The post has been prepared by Bryce Powell, CEO of New Black Technologies , a company that has developed an advanced industrial microwave technology to efficiently deconstruct waste tires and recover carbon black (rCB), oil and syngas.
Driving Carbon Black into the Circular Economy
Natural resources are being consumed at an unsustainable rate. As populations and middle-class consumer markets grow, this trajectory can be expected to continue. Production, consumption and waste are on a dead-end course to deplete the earth’s natural resources while simultaneously polluting the environment.
To achieve sustainable growth, societies must move away from “take-make-waste” product life-cycles. This entails transition to a circular economy in which materials are recovered from end-of-life goods and re-used in production of new goods.
Transition into a circular economy requires that:
- Producers design goods in anticipation of material recovery and re-use.
- Advanced resource recovery technologies emerge to commercially reclaim materials from waste.
- Capital markets invest in emerging clean technologies.
New Black Technologies has developed advanced resource recovery technology to profitably reclaim oil, gas and carbon black (rCB) from end-of-life tires.
Carbon Black (CB) is one of the oldest manufactured materials and was used in ancient civilizations for dyes and inks. In 1910, CB was added as a reinforcing filler material in tires. This innovation increased tire road wear by 100x and tensile strength by 1000%. Thus, the Age of the Automobile rolled in on this amazing material.
Today, CB is ubiquitous and used as a pigment or reinforcing filler in nearly every black product made. It is among the Top 50 industrial chemicals with annual global production of 12 million metric tons. As middle-class consumer markets grow, demand for CB is projected to rise.
The Life – Cycle of Carbon Black
The lifecycle of CB is typically linear. It begins with resource extractionand ends with waste disposal. Both cradle and grave are marred by pollution. CB is manufactured by incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products (oil). Production requires substantial energy and emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG).
Roughly 75% of the CB supply is used in the production of tires. When tiresreach the end of their useful life they are typically disposed. End-of-life tires (ELT) are among the most problematic solid waste streams. 300 million are generated in the U.S. every year with 1.5 billion worldwide.
Sheer volume, coupled with the strength and durability that give tires outstanding performance qualities, make ELT difficult to dispose. Stockpiles provide ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos and other vectors. Landfilling is complicated by the tendency of tires to rise up and resurface. Both take tremendous space and pose grave danger of uncontrolled fires. The predominant method of disposal which has emerged is controlled combustion of shredded tires as “tire derived fuel” (TDF). Cement kilns, power plants and paper mills burn TDF in combination with coal to generate heat and power. More than 50% of ELT in the U.S. are disposed this way. In spite of toxic air pollution, this method is favored on the premise that energy recovery is better than total waste.
Driving Carbon Black to Circular Economy
Transforming the lifecycle of CB requires profitable, clean recycling technology. NBT has developed advanced microwave pyrolysis technology to deconstruct chipped tires and efficiently recover carbon black (rCB). Pyrolysis is a clean, non-combustion process. It entails decomposition of materials at high temperatures in an oxygen-free environment. Pyrolysis has been recognized as the most promising method of tire recycling. Other companies have developed pyrolysis technologies using thermal (conventional) heating.
NBT has incorporated the efficiency of microwave heating in its advanced, state-of-the-art technology. NBT’s process is continuous, scalable and allows large volumes of tires to be processed under precise conditions. A typical plant is projected to process more than 7 million tires and recover 20,000 tons of rCB.
NBT’s process is continuous, scalable and allows large volumes of tires to be processed under precise conditions. A typical plant is projected to process more than 7 million tires and recover 20,000 tons of rCB annually. Every ton of rCB recovered is estimated to save two tons of oil from being used to produce virgin material.
Today’s challenges require new, innovative solutions. New Black Technologies (NBT) has developed advanced resource recovery technology to profitably recover oil, gas and carbon black (rCB) from waste tires. By decreasing reliance on virgin material and eliminating tire burning and land disposal, the impact of CB’s shift into the circular economy will be profound.
CEO New Black Technologies