A Novel Method for Converting a Negative Value Waste Into a Commodity Chemical

EPA Contract Number: 68D00248
Title: A Novel Method for Converting a Negative Value Waste Into a Commodity Chemical
Investigators: Denvir, Adrian J.
Small Business: Lynntech Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through March 1, 2001
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , SBIR - Waste , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


It is estimated that there are approximately 300 million tires discarded each year in the United States, and this is on top of the 800 million scrap tires that reside in landfills and tire dumps throughout the country. About 180 million of the 300 million tires discarded each year are recycled, 130 million are burned as fuel for power plants and cement kilns, 15 million are retreaded and resold, and the remainder are ground into crumb for polymer filling. The remaining 120 million scrap tires are discarded (legally or illegally) in landfills or tire dumps. Current tire reuse technologies offer a considerable opportunity to generate valuable materials from what is essentially worthless scrap. There are significant market barriers preventing these technologies from reaching their economic potential.

Considering all of the potential markets for crumb rubber as a polymer filler, the one with the greatest potential is the production of rubber pavements. There are 27 million tons of asphalt used in building and maintaining roads each year in the United States. Lynntech, Inc., has developed an innovative ozonation process that alters the physical nature of the crumb rubber in two ways. The rubber is chemically "devulcanized," generating cleavage products that are free from the interference of the sulfur-carbon bonds in the original rubber state, and secondly, there is oxygen functionality added to the cleavage products. The overall result of this treatment is a product that is easy to mix with asphalt, with greater surface area for better contact, and functional groups for improved bonding. Experts believe that an asphalt pavement made using the Lynntech modified crumb rubber would be of better quality than a pavement made with ordinary crumb rubber.

The Phase I objective is to develop a low-temperature process for the production of surface modified crumb rubber. The system will be environmentally friendly and have low treatment costs, thus making the process economically sound. The surface modified crumb rubber, which is generated in the process, will have applications in many different markets. The process has the advantage of removing the problematic tire waste from landfills and generating a material with considerable market value. Inquiries into crumb rubber prices suggested that the ozonated crumb rubber could be sold for $0.25 per lb. In the polymer feed market, this would generate a net income of $30 million per year.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, solid waste, recycling, engineering, chemistry, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Waste, Chemical Engineering, Municipal, Environmental Chemistry, Hazardous Waste, Chemistry and Materials Science, Hazardous, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, tires, recycled waste products, municipal solid waste landfills, recycling, crumb rubber, treatment, solid waste, reuse, waste recovery

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report