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Kiwi Inventors Create "No 8 Wire" Global Pollution Solution -- In A Shipping Container!

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Three New Zealand chemical engineer/inventors have developed a truly kiwi "Number 8 Wire" solution to a major global recycling problem - inside a 40ft shipping container in West Auckland!

Aucklanders Chris Newman and Roger Monkton with Canterbrian Hamish Hamilton have developed the country's first 100% green self-sustaining recycling plant to turn our millions of used tyres into light fuel oil, gas, carbon and steel using a process called pyrolysis.

The invention has significant resource savings and emissions management implications as well as potential for export, and savings in foreign exchange.

The group, operating as Tyregone Processors, is now calling for Government to support the project and urgently enforce current environmental legislation and honour an international convention, to help New Zealand's "clean green" image.

The resource recovery plant is modular - built inside a series of upended shipping containers. It is adaptable to cater for differing volumes of tyres generated by varying population sizes. And it is self-sustaining - powered by the gas it recovers from the tyres!

Three plants could completely recycle this country's total annual output of five million-odd used tyres that are currently shredded then dumped, or furtively and illegally exported as hazardous waste to Asia.

The world-patented system is already being considered by several local Councils and a national power generator.

Tyregone General Manager Chris Newman says the resource recovery process should be funded by the tyre industry from a tariff imposed on all tyres as they enter the country (all NZ tyres are now imported).

He says this would redirect the millions of dollars currently charged by garages as a " disposal fee " each time a tyre is changed, from the current unregulated tyre disposal to a genuine recycling project.

Most tyres are dumped locally or exported for burning as fuel - contributing to toxic pollution. Tyregone sources its tyres from long established tyre collection and disposal service J. & J. Laughton of West Auckland.

How the Tyregone Pyrolysis system works. Pyrolysis is not an "incineration" but an enclosed heat process so there is no black smoke, acrid odour or toxic emissions. Shredded tyres are fed into a large vertical tube heated to around 650 degrees Centigrade inside a 40 ft container.

The resultant gases are cooled, the liquids distilled, and the surplus gas is used to power the plant. The process yields carbon and steel as well as the oil and gas. This is a completely sustainable recovery of all the tyre's resources, so the plant has zero waste, and zero hazardous emissions. Carbon is vital to steel making and the Tyregone pyrolysis process should eliminate the need for thousands of tonnes of imported coal-derived carbon.

The recovered tyre steel is recycled. The oil and gas can be used for industry, heating and energy generation. Chris Newman says sites in say Auckland, Lower North Island, and Central South Island, would totally solve New Zealand's end-of-life tyre problem.

The company plans to manufacture and export plants for operation under licence. Independent endorsement University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering Professor Mohammed Farid recently inspected the project last month and says he was amazed by the quality of work invested in the plant's development. For some years he has shared an interest in pyrolysis of tyres with Tyregone's Chris Newman - and the University's Chemical and Engineering Department has been studying pyrolysis of other waste products in a project funded by the Foundation of Research Science and Technology.

Professor Farid praises the plant's construction for using only locally available materials and New Zealand expertise. "It is scaled to a commercial level and has performed both as a test bed for the technology, materials and processes, and for the economic modelling and marketing of the recovered products."

Professor Farid says the plant incorporates many novel aspects of "green engineering" that could save foreign exchange.

"It embodies many useful concepts that could be applied to other pyrolysis applications and has great potential as an exportable technology for overseas resource recovery projects," he says.

Research began in 2004 with "backyard experiments" at one of the inventors' homes in West Auckland. Since then private backers helped finance a prototype plant and trials at a West Auckland industrial site. Tyregone is now preparing to operate commercially.

Professor Farid says that the Tyregone group's experience and his department's in depth knowledge of pyrolysis chemistry and technology could result in closer collaboration to put their innovative ideas into practice.

A call for legislative action Tyregone wants Government to support the local recycling industry by urgently enforcing New Zealand's obligations under the Basel Convention that bans the international movement and disposal of hazardous wastes, including tyres, and the Waste Minimisation Act 2009 which supports the redirection of valuable resources, including tyres, from landfill to recycling.

It wants a ban on illegal exports of used tyres to Asia for so-called recycling as tyre-derived fuel, which causes hazardous emissions. It's also calling for heavy penalties for the dumping of used tyres at illegal landfills and into "gullies," and an end to stockpiling used tyres for export.

This would help reduce health hazards including the risk of disease spread by mosquitoes that breed in rainwater that pools in the millions of old tyres dumped around the countryside.

The inventors Chris Newman, Auckland, is originally from Upper Hutt where his first association with the tyre industry was through his father who helped build the Dunlop tyre manufacturing plant. His qualifications include Degrees from State University New York, and the University of Auckland.

He worked in New Zealand and overseas in education, management and marketing roles. Chris says the Tyregone project embodies ideas on resource recovery and sustainable business he taught as an environmental activist and teacher. In New Zealand he was associated with the Maruia Society (previously Native Forest Action Committee), and was its Auckland chairman in the early '90's.

Roger Monkton is originally from Hamilton and a Civil Engineer (University of Auckland) living in Pt Chevalier. He has an extensive background in construction and engineering, primarily in project management. He is keenly interested in green issues and has worked on other projects with various inventors.

Hamish Hamilton, Christchurch, is a chemical engineer who completed studies at Canterbury University, and subsequently became involved in a number of high-tech start-up companies. He has for several years commuted to Auckland working on the project's development. 

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