April 2006

 

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Recovery Technologies
Mike Bryczka, General Manager
Cambridge, Ontario • 519-740-6801

Daniel Schrager

Recovery Technologies is on its third owner since its inception in 1993, but the products and technologies haven’t changed much at all. The company was started by three partners – two engineers and one accountant – who came up with a way to process scrap tires using cryogenics to freeze the rubber.

More than just a high-tech gimmick, Recovery Technologies’ general manager Mike Bryczka explained that cryogenically processed rubber has different characteristics than traditionally ground rubber. Bryczka said that the rubber “is broken as opposed to ground,” which gives it smooth edges.

The process – a proprietary system – involves shredding the tires first, then a liquid nitrogen spray and then a trip through a hammermill to break the frozen rubber. The result is what Bryczka called “cryo-rubber.” By re-grinding the cryo-runner in a cracker mill, another product “crambient rubber,” is produced.

The smooth edges of cryo-rubber makes it ideal for sports field applications. According to Bryczka, it has better density, will settle and pack down and won’t float when the fields are wet.

Now owned by an investment banking firm, Recovery Technologies is using the same basic process designed by the original partners, but “made more efficient” according to Bryczka.

The company has expanded from its original plant in Ontario, adding locations in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia in Canada as well as in Pennsylvania.

Bryczka said that one reason for the growth is “the demand for that type of rubber.” Most NFL fields use a rubber base and other markets are emerging as well, including use in asphalt, landscaping material and running tracks. Bryczka noted that in horse arenas, rubber is used to replace traditional gravel and sand.

“We’ll take all the tires we can,” Bryczka said. In Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, a “stewardship program” exists, so registered haulers bring tires in to be processed. But it’s not all huge quantities from big businesses – Recycling Technologies will accept tires from individuals. He noted that while the landfills charge $5 per tire, Recycling Technologies will take tires from individuals for $1 per tire.

A smaller market for Recovery Technologies’ rubber is TDF (tire derived fuel), but they prefer to focus on re-use of the rubber. In fact, the goal is to recycle 100 percent of the tire, eventually. They’re getting close. Their process separates the fiber and steel from the tires, and the steel goes to metal recyclers. The only part that isn’t currently being recycled is the fiber, but they’re working on that.

Still more uses are possible, including use in injection molding machines where the rubber is mixed with plastics, and highway uses as traffic barriers and light standards. “R & D interests me,” Bryczka said.

He noted that rubber recycling is in its infancy compared to other recycling. “There are always changes in the industry,” he said. And Recycling Technologies is growing and learning with the industry.

 


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