A Novel Method for Converting a Negative Value Waste into a Commodity ChemicalEPA Contract Number: 68D01056
Title: A Novel Method for Converting a Negative Value Waste into a Commodity Chemical
Investigators: Denvir, Adrian J.
Small Business: Lynntech Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Project Period: September 1, 2001 through September 1, 2003
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2001) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , SBIR - Waste , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Description:It is estimated that there are approximately 300 million tires discarded each year in the United States and this is in addition to the 800 million scrap tires that reside in landfills and tire dumps throughout the country. About 180 million are recycled, and 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. However, inconsistencies in the quality of the final pavement have resulted in a decrease in popularity. During the Phase I effort, Lynntech successfully demonstrated a low-temperature process to generate surface modified crumb rubber. Addition of the chemically activated crumb rubber was shown to solve many of the problems associated with rubber pavement production. This new asphalt has improved settling characteristics, resistance to fatigue, and resistance to thermal cracking. The asphalt also had better high-temperature viscosity and the curing time was reduced by half compared to traditional crumb rubber blends. During the Phase II effort, Lynntech will expand on the scope of Phase I by building and testing a field deployable crumb rubber treatment system and, for proof of concept, Lynntech will use the treated crumb rubber to lay a test section of highway. The potential for success is high. Lynntech will be working with the Center for Asphalt and Materials Chemistry at Texas A&M University. The Center is recognized world wide for its advances in asphalt chemistry and has developed several formulations that have been used on several sections of highway in Texas.
The commercial potential for this technology is enormous. Foresight Science and Technology performed an independent economic evaluation on the use of ozone-treated crumb rubber for pavement construction. The domestic market alone was estimated at $15 million for the first year of operation, increasing to $120 million after 5 years. During the course of the evaluation, Lynntech and Foresight have identified several other lucrative markets including automotive rubber products (tire retreads, hoses, belts, etc.), protective matting, and soil amendments. Lynntech has already identified several potential commercial partners who have invested resources into commercialization of this technology.