Scientists have figured out how to make fuel from old tires

Used tires pose a serious environmental hazard due to damage that can be caused by storage in the environment. From year to year, there are more and more of them in developed countries. Their processing is of great interest and is being stimulated by increasingly stringent regulations from governments around the world. Scientists have figured out how to recycle used tires into fuel using pyrolysis. The research results are published by the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

Pyrolysis is an extremely interesting alternative when it comes to recycling tire materials to produce alternative fuels and high value-added petrochemicals.

In fact, pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of organic and many inorganic compounds. In the narrow sense – the decomposition of organic natural compounds with a lack of oxygen. Pyrolysis can be defined as the high-temperature thermolysis of hydrocarbons carried out at low pressure and short duration.

In this context, pyrolysis involves the destruction of the rubber of a tire by heat in the absence of oxygen. The products and their yield depend on the conditions in which the pyrolysis is carried out.

The research team analyzed the most important benefits of increasing the value of used tires through catalytic pyrolysis. The main interest in increasing the value of waste tires through pyrolysis is based on the potential of the resulting products: gas, liquid, and solid – coal. The yield and composition of each of them depend on the pyrolysis conditions, scientists say.

The liquid is the main product obtained in catalytic pyrolysis. This liquid is of the greatest interest because it can be used as a fuel. Its composition is complex and includes various types of compounds as well as sulfur compounds that limit its direct use as a fuel. Interest in catalytic pyrolysis is usually associated with improving the properties of the output products.

Pyrolysis gases can also be used as a fuel for power generation. And, of course, coal, which is made up of the carbon black present in the tire. It can be reused as carbon black in tire production.

Researchers are now gradually correlating and improving the pyrolysis process in order to ensure the distribution of products with a more suitable composition for their potential use as a fuel or raw material, the scientists conclude.