Bob Shatten, president
of SuperCool LLC in Arlington, Massachusetts, said his
company has developed a method that will change the dynamics
of the scrap-tire market.
“I really do believe
that it can be a transformational technology in terms
of how we’re dealing with this solid waste problem
nationwide,” Shatten said.
Shatten said the company’s
patented method is known as “cold sharing”
and is analogous to co-generation used in the power industry.
But instead of using excess heat produced at power plants,
SuperCool will utilize wasted refrigeration capacity from
liquefied natural gas (LNG) distribution terminals to
turn scrap tires into fine crumb rubber.
Shatten referred to the
process as industrial symbiosis or industrial ecology,
because the method takes one industry’s waste and
turns it into a product. “We take a solid waste
problem and apply it to another industry’s waste,
which is refrigeration, which allows us to be much more
economical to produce fine mesh crumb rubber,” Shatten
SuperCool intends to
co-locate cryogenic scrap-tire grinding facilities adjacent
to LNG distribution terminals. Its first application is
a patented heat exchange process for the cryogenic size
reduction of scrap tires into high quality rubber crumb.
It will utilize the cold from the LNG and also reduce
the energy required to vaporize the LNG.
Shatten said the process
would reduce the cost of cryogenic scrap tire recycling.
“We view it as a potential transformational technology
for crumb rubber recycling, especially fine mesh applications
that have previously not been economical,” he said.
LNG is shipped in super
tankers and is offloaded into terminals where it is heated
and vaporized before being introduced into the natural
gas pipeline system. Shatten said the price to reheat
the gas is about two percent of all the energy that the
“We want to provide
them with free supply of heat through simple heat transfer
and they’ll supply us with refrigeration that is
being taken from the liquefied gas through a heat exchanger
and piping system,” Shatten said. “Once we
have the refrigeration on our side of the fence line,
we simply have another heat exchanger in which we run
either air or nitrogen gas across it and use that refrigerated
air or nitrogen to freeze the rubber.”
would then cool the scrap tires below a negative 125 degrees
Fahrenheit. The rubber then becomes brittle allowing the
facility to shatter the scrap tires and sift and separate
out the metal and the fiber to create the fine mesh crumb
a chicken and egg industry that people have not been able
to deliver a high valued consistent product economically,”
Shatten said. He said the scrap tire recycling industry
has been using either a wet attrition method or a cryogenic
method, which has a greater liquid nitrogen demand, to
turn scrap tires into crumb rubber.
“In our case the
more refrigeration demand that we use the more energy
we can save the liquefied natural gas distribution terminal,”
Shatten said. “So, we completely changed the economics
on how this material can be produced in the future.”
SuperCool is in negotiations
with a number of LNG terminals across the country with
a plan to have the first three plants constructed by 2007.
Shatten estimates each facility will cost $15 million.
He said the company is looking for strategic partners
and/or venture capital. “It’s been an intricate
process in the fact that we need to secure markets in
order for us to feel comfortable in going forward with
the capital investment.”
“Our business plan
envisions probably no more than three terminals in North
America, one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast
and one on the Gulf Coast,” Shatten said. He said
the company is also looking at potential sites in Europe.
He estimated a long-term potential of building up to 10
to 15 facilities worldwide.
Shatten said that the
scrap-tire market’s current focus on burning tires
for energy recovery is not a sustainable practice. Instead,
he said that the SuperCool’s recycling method has
a lot of secondary benefits “because we’re
keeping the rubber in commerce by enabling it to go into
more applications by creating a higher valued product.”
SuperCool estimates that
of the 290 million scrap tires generated across the country,
87 percent is burned, used as civil engineering fill or
placed in landfills. Less than five percent of the original
$2.5 billion in raw materials is recovered. Instead, SuperCool
estimates that up to 50 percent of the original value
could be recovered for multiple uses if the rubber could
be ground into a very fine crumb-rubber powder.
SuperCool estimates consumption
of virgin and synthetic rubber to grow at 20 percent during
the next 5 to 7 years. “We think there are significant
changes in the marketplace due to the increased price
of oil which causes an increased price in rubber,”
Shatten said. “The increased demand that is coming
from China and India are also necessitating that companies
find other uses to reduce their demand on rubber materials.”
J. D. Jackson, chief
technology officer at SuperCool, also said he thinks the
new method will impact the scrap-tire market favorably.
“It takes a technology to produce fine mesh rubber
cryogenically that was practical before and now it is
economical, whereas before it was practical and uneconomical
because of the cost,” Jackson said.
As the oil market continues
to rise, the industries that use rubber will work to stay
competitive and try to hold costs down, Jackson said.
“They’ll become more favorably attracted to
using lower cost materials which include the recycled
Jackson said that there
are proven advantages to using cryogenics. But the big
deterrent in the past has been the cost of the refrigerant.
“If you can remove the cost of refrigerant from
the equation, what has been a marginally profitable to
unprofitable business in the past now can become a profitable
business,” Jackson said.
that the economic drivers to cause it to move on upward
are very strong. In my opinion, nothing drives technology
like good economics. They haven’t been favorable
in the past. They look favorable in the future,”
Robert Shapiro, chief
executive officer of Federal Recycling Technologies Inc.,
in Norman, Oklahoma, is also hoping technology will drive
good economics. “Our whole thesis was maybe we could
recycle tires into products good enough to go back to
making tires again. That would be taking recycling full
circle,” Shapiro said about his method.
Federal Recycling has
a patent to apply advanced systems controls at scrap-tire
recycling plants to produce two high-grade commodity products:
carbon black and solvent oil. The technology recovers
approximately six pounds of a commodity grade carbon black
and 1.3 gallons of commodity grade solvent oil from each
Shapiro said that $25
million is needed to develop each plant, which would cover
everything from land to the cost of permitting to the
actual plant. He said the company expects to close soon
on the first plant, which will be built in nearby Oklahoma
Each recycling plant
would process 28,000 tons of shreds on a four-reactor
plant or about 2.8 million tires per year, according to
Federal Recycling. The company estimates that each plant
would generate operating income of $13.5 million annually.
Plus, each plant would reduce the need for 200,000 barrels
of crude oil a year.
“The impact would
be developing and putting in place a very profitable way
to encourage further recycling of tires, rather than abandoning
the tires,” Shapiro said. “There would be
a very positive economic return for recycling tires.”