Tyre pyrolysis in China

Used mining truck tyres are a resource that is currently buried. Downer EDi Mining are considering building a pyrolysis facility in Western Australia to turn used mining truck tyres into usable fuel oil, steel and carbon black. Although there are facilities and several suppliers that process used car and road truck tyres, the processing of used mining truck tyres (that weigh about 2.5t each) is new.

A supplier in China was willing to run a trial. A team was put together to confirm that the process and the supplier's capability were real as well as collect data on the performance of the pyrolysis process. Geoffrey Raymond was invited to be part of the team due to his background in engineering, the development of new technologies and risk.

The trials were a success, but it was due to a huge effort by all involved. We needed to do two trials. The first was a little slow to start and had some faults, in particular the operators didn't weigh how much they put into the reactor. By the time we were ready to unload the reactor of solids (steel and carbon black) the Chinese company said there was not sufficient time or labour to do the second trial. After a long debate they agreed to continue, but it needed everyone, Chinese managers and our team as well as their operators.

We worked to unload and then reload the reactor till after 11pm, then two Chinese managers stayed all night with four operators to see it through. Attached is a picture of a manager Mark and Geoff. The grubbiness is not because it was a bad photo; that's real carbon black dust. Geoff threw his boots and shirt away and was charged extra by the hotel for turning a white towel dark grey.

The trials highlighted a range of issues, but all are manageable. Downer EDi Mining now has good information on which to make a decision and has established a good relationship with the Chinese supplier. The environment will be the beneficiary.

Geoff and Mark, Plant Manager after the trial in Shangqiu, China. Photo credit: Geoff Raymond