Old tires are and difficult to dispose of or recycle. Traditionally, used tires are usually shredded into toxic tire playground mulch (yuck), buried or burned. But a company in New Jersey has a strange new solution to the world’s tire disposal problem. They want to microwave them and turn the material into fuel. If successful, it would be an incredible innovation in tire recycling and disposal.
Converting Tires Into Fuel
The Global Resource Corporation has a new facility with giant microwave chambers, big enough to fit tires inside. The industrial microwave can convert tires into three types of fuel:
- Oil: Tires are mostly made out of oil. The microwaving process helps to rearrange the hydrogen and carbon molecules. The liquid tire material can then be processed at an oil refinery or even converted to diesel fuel.
- Gases: Although this vapor “tire gas” can’t be used in your car, it can be burned to make electricity.
- Solid Fuel: The solid material left over from the microwaving process can also be burned in coal plants to generate electricity.
Used Tire Value
Although this process is a great way to recycle the billions of used tires on this planet, the yield isn’t as high as you might expect. According to Jay E. Gill, a salesman at Global Resource, it takes about 300 tires to create as much fuel value as one barrel of oil.
Is Tire Recycling Profitable?
Tire recycling is a great idea for the environment. But is it a real and sustainable business capable of generating a profit? Let’s do the math. Global Resource’s microwave machine, tire shredders, and other equipment cost about $2.5 million dollars. After subtracting the amount of energy it takes to run the equipment, the whole process is capable of producing a surplus of about 400 kilowatts of electricity, capable of powering a medium-sized retail store.
Although microwaving tires is a great innovative idea, it probably won’t catch on. The results are great enough for mass investment. Hopefully, companies like Global Resource will continue their efforts to make green energy a sustainable reality in the near future.