Tailor-made rubber recycling

The aim is to reduce rubber waste by reprocessing it as a
tailor-made service to the rubber industry. This new
approach to the recycling problem needs new organisational
structures and specific technical research is required.

The project relates to the reduction of rubber waste in the automotive production cycle and is in line with three major environmental efforts: 1. Reduction of waste deposits; 2. Recycling of waste materials; 3. The end of life return of a product and its producer. The aim of the project is to find commercially viable solutions for material re-use. A technique for reprocessing vulcanised rubber waste to a basic material is available but the problem is to find a market for the product. The market has a preference for virgin material, that is often only marginally more expensive than the recycled alternative. The main problems to be solved by the project are twofold: 1) The quality and specification of the recycled rubber: The existing know-how mainly applies to the reprocessing of natural rubber waste from truck and aircraft tyres into natural rubber reclaim and of butyl rubber waste from tubes into butyl rubber reclaim. The new approach is to focus on a flexible recycling technology for modifying separate rubber waste streams into a basic material that fits a specific application. Initially project activities will be concentrated on the recycling of factory scrap in a closed loop system. In a later stage the end of lifetime waste, such as used tyres, will also be dealt with. To find solutions, mutual research on the recycling technology on the one hand and the processing of the recycled rubber compound on the other, is a prerequisite. 2) The participation of companies involved: The recycling of rubber scrap needs greater participation from the companies concerned. This applies particularly to the automobile industry. For one thing, the contribution of the rubber goods makers is indispensable to develop a useful product and for another, the car makers must be willing to accept and test the products with the recycled rubber. In the first place, a search was made into the quantities and kinds of rubber scraps with the various rubber goods makers in Western Europe. An analysis of the obtained information resulted in the selection of the factory scraps which were considered appropriate for tailor-made recycling. Companies with these scraps were approached for a preliminary investigation, including initial recycling tests. On the basis of the results of these investigations, the feasibility for tailor-made recycling was evaluated. Scrap streams which are considered interesting for recycling are: - vibration dampers (natural rubber - NR) - coolant hoses (sulphur cured EPDM) - sealing profiles (sulphur cured Ethylene-propylene-Diene Rubber - EPDM) - truck tyre treads (NR/SBR) - conveyor belts (NR). At the start of the project BOGE and VREDESTEIN RUBBER RECYCLING were the two participants. Their cooperation was aimed at the joint development of tailor-made recycling of production scraps from moulded vibration dampers. From the beginning the intention was that additional partners would join the ongoing project. Envisaged enterprises are: - makers of rubber automotive parts (tyres, sealing profiles, hoses) - non-automotive rubber goods makers (conveyor belts, plates) - machine manufacturers (grinding, separation, sheet- vulcanisation equipment) - car dismantling companies - Research Institutes and Universities. Course of project participation: In August 1994 STANDARD PRODUCTS LTD. (U.K.) was endorsed in the project. The company is a manufacturer of sealing profiles (and other rubber articles) and is the partner of VREDESTEIN in the joint development of tailor-made recycling of EPDM waste of sealing profiles to be used as basic material in compounds for sealing profiles. In December 1994 four German enterprises joined the project: - DEUTSCHES INSTITUT FUER KAUTSCHUKTECHNOLOGIE (D.I.K.) - PHOENIX AG - BALLENSTEDTER GUMMIWERKE GMBH (B.G.W.) - TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET CHEMNITZ-ZWICKAU (TU-CZ) Their participation was for the development of tailor-made recycling of: - rubber waste from tyres for re-use in tyre treads - production waste of sealing profiles and coolant hoses as a basic material for coolant hoses - waste of conveyor belts reinforced with textile (NR) to be used in conveyor belts and plate material, and - rubber waste from tyres for re-use in thermoplastics respectively. Usually the start of the project activities is linked to the resolution on grant application. In the case of the German partners, the application period lasted for years, due to the bureaucracy of the Ministerial Department in question. As a result of this negative experience and for other reasons, the three companies left the project: * B.G.W. from March 11th, 1996, * BOGE from April 22nd, 1996, and * PHOENIX from July 7th, 1997. TU-CZ got a grant approval in November 1997 and started the planned research activities from that data. D.I.K.'s grant application is still pending (October 1998!). From the start of the project efforts were made to implicate a type manufacturer as a partner in the project because tyres are the main part of rubber automotive parts. Fortunately, in June 1996 GOODYEAR decided to join the project to cooperate on the development of a car tyre with a high content of recycled rubber. In October 1996 a mutual research programme (on the basis of a Design of Experiments) started to develop a mathematical model for the determination of the correlation between process conditions and material properties. The joint investigation of STANDARD PRODUCTS and VREDESTEIN RUBBER RECYCLING was finished at the end of 1997. The reason was that the quality of the EPDM-reclaim, made from the sealants scrap, did not meet the requirements (based on virgin material) and STANDARD PRODUCTS was not prepared to make changes to the compound or to develop a special application for the recycled material. In consequence of the activities of this project a development was also started to make plates solely from SURCRUM. For this development, VREDESTEIN is cooperating with the German companies CONTITECH and BISON. These companies decided not to become partners in the EUREKA project, because grant applications were not considered owing to the condition involved to disclose confidential information.
Project ID: 
1 080
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
6 850 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.