Magazine article E Magazine

Energy from Trash Tires

Magazine article E Magazine

Energy from Trash Tires

Article excerpt

Andy McIntosh made his way through a maze of garbage, undeterred in his search for a new energy source. After a 10-minute hike through the city dump, McIntosh found what he was looking for: thousands of discarded tires.

"When I see a tire, I see green," says McIntosh, speaking in both the environmental and monetary sense. He and his business partner, Vince Wong, are Canadians trying to make it in the business of tire pyrolysis, which recovers products from waste through incineration. Together, they hope to help the environment and make money by burning rubber.

"People treat tires as waste, but we treat them as raw material," says Wong, a chemical engineer. In industrialized countries, it's estimated one tire per person is discarded each year, which, according to Environmental News Network, translates into more than 270 million tires thrown away annually in the United States. An estimated 500 million are stockpiled in the U.S., creating an eyesore and an environmental and health hazard. Tires can spontaneously combust, releasing toxins into the air, or become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and rodents. Wong believes tire pyrolysis can generate energy while cleaning up an old problem.

The average tire consists of 43 percent oil, 42 percent carbon black, eight percent steel and seven percent gas. Although there are 150 companies pursuing pyrolysis worldwide, very few have done it cost-effectively because the equipment and expertise needed is expensive. …

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