The patented recycling process, done by an OTR subsidiary called Green Carbon Inc., also based in Rome, was shown off for members of the Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful board during a tour of the recycling facility on North Avenue in Rome Tuesday.
GCIs Phil Wilson said the company faced a problem for decades in trying to determine what to do with scrap tires, particularly the massive tires used on mining and agricultural equipment which OTR specializes in. Wilson said OTR personnel researched a technique called pyrolysis, developed by German engineers, and tweaked it to create a thermal vacuum recovery system.
A gas fueled reactor with a ten-foot in diameter door was developed to be able to contain all but the two largest tires that are currently on the market. “Any sort of hydrocarbon can go in there,” Wilson explained. Aside from tires, worn out conveyor belts or rubberized tracks used on smaller bulldozers can also be reduced to its original materials.
The largest of tires, a 63-inch tire, can be reduced to 588 gallons of oil, 3,500 pounds of carbon black and 1,500 pounds of steel. The largest reactor can burn two of those tires at the same time in a process that takes 16 hours from start to finish. The process also produces and captures more gas than it takes to fuel the incineration, according to Wilson.
“The process is very environmentally friendly,” Wilson said.
The company is paid $2,800 per tire for the recycling of the massive mining tires and get $1.50 per tire for the typical automotive tires.
Rome and Floyd County Solid Waste personnel handled more than 42.8 tons of tires in 2016. All are recycled but only occasionally with Green Carbon. Lee Stone, the landfill environmental compliance supervisor, said Rome and Floyd County currently has a contract with OTR of Atlanta for the disposal of tires.
Wilson said oils derived from the process, which are different depending on the type of tire, are sold to refineries in Alabama and Missouri. He said OTR is Green Carbon’s largest customer.