Pearl Global Limited has begun commissioning its first production plant after receiving Australia’s Queensland state government, environmental and council approvals for its unique process to convert waste tires into valuable secondary products.
Pearl Executive Chairman Gary Foster said, “This is a turning point for used tire processing in Australia. We are the first company in Australia to receive licenses for the thermal treatment of rubber, to reclaim and recover valuable products for resale.
“Our technology is a significant advancement on other methods of processing waste tires because it has low emissions, no hazardous by-products, requires no chemical intervention and is the only process that meets the standard emissions criteria set by the Australian regulators for this type of technology.”
Pearl recently received planning approval from the Gold Coast City Council and has approval from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage. It already holds an environmental licence from the Western Australian Government Department of Environment Regulation.
Pearl’s technology uses an applied heating process called thermal desorption to cleanly convert end of life tires into products including liquid hydrocarbon, high tensile steel and carbon char. These products can be sold commercially or further processed to create higher value-added products. The process can also potentially generate power for a range of other uses.
Pearl has constructed its first production plant, with two thermal desorption units (TDUs), in Stapylton, Queensland, Australia and initial commissioning is under way. The second TDU is owned by Pearl’s intellectual property licensor and contracting partner Keshi, and will be purchased by Pearl as soon as practical.
“This is the first plant of its type in Australia and we expect to be ramping up to full production over the coming months,” said Mr Foster.
At full production, each TDU can process approximately 5,000 tons of shredded rubber per week (equivalent of around 50,000 car tires) which provides on average a weekly output of 1.5 million litres of raw fuels, in the form of liquid hydrocarbons.
A clean solution to a global problem
It is estimated that the world community disposes of more than 1 billion tires every year. In 2015, Australia disposed of more than 51 million tires. Of these, only around 5% were recycled locally, around 32% were exported for recycling and energy recovery, and the remainder were landfilled, stockpiled, illegally dumped or ‘lost’. In 2018, Tyre Stewardship Australia expects the number of tires disposed of in Australia to increase to 56 million tires.
Tires are not naturally degradable, with tire fires and pollution becoming major causes for concern. Governments are increasingly seeking solutions for dealing with the waste. Pearl’s technology provides a clean alternative to current recycling options, which include shredding tires for constructing into playgrounds and other products, which have limited applications, or exporting baled tires for further destruction overseas.
An independent report by the University of Western Australia has confirmed that the process can operate in a low emissions environment.
“This is a technology invented in Australia that will contribute to solving a serious global environmental problem,” Mr Foster said.
“We believe there is great potential in Australia to immediately deploy our technology at sites close to where tires have been stockpiled,” Mr Foster said.
“With governments seeking or mandating solutions for waste, Pearl is well placed to offer a solution that is both environmentally sound and commercially viable.”
Pearl has applied to be an accredited member of Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), a program established by the Australian government to reduce the number of end of life tires damaging the environment, increase the recycling rate and to promote the development of viable markets for end of life tires.