Australia-based academics to launch new research into fuel produced from recycled tyres

New research into the properties of oil from recycled tyres will evaluate the performance and emissions of commercial vehicles under actual operating conditions including engines that are representative of heavy duty trucks, light weight commercial vehicles, 4Wds and SUVs.

The “on-truck” tests have been conducted on a Kenworth K200 semi-trailer in Brisbane, Australia. It has undertaken a 1,200km journey to the Rio Tinto Hall Creek mine, south of Mackay, North Queensland, Australia.

The actual results will be calculated and revealed next week (13 November, 2017).

The truck will be fuelled with a mixture of 10% recycled tyre oil and standard diesel and 100% diesel on the return journey to provide a comparison.

It will be followed by a Hyundai 2017 iLoad which has a 2.5 L diesel engine, that is similar to many other diesel vehicles on the market in Australia, as well as most 4WD/SUV diesels that are in the 2.2 to 3 L in capacity.

The van will transport the team from Australia-based universities QUT and Deakin University who are conducting the research and will be responsible for monitoring the portable performance and emissions measuring equipment.

This vehicle will also be fuelled with a mixture of the recycled tyre oil and diesel so that the emissions and performance can be measured on the 1200-kilometre return journey.

‘Volkswagen Factor’

The purpose of this research is to compensate for what is now known as the ‘Volkswagen Factor’ as the previous research was done on a bench test in a laboratory.  

That research was conducted by QUT and found that the recycled tyre oil, when it was mixed as a percentage with standard diesel fuel, had exhaust emissions with 30% less nitrogen oxide, which contributes to photochemical smog and lower particle mass than emissions from standard diesel oil, but almost the same performance.

The tyre oil comes from world breakthrough tyre recycling technology developed by Australian company Green Distillation Technologies.

The process, known as ‘destructive distillation’ recycles end-of-life tyres into oil, carbon and the steel bead and mesh, leaving nothing wasted and even uses a percentage of the recovered oil as the heat source.

This new research will be carried out by the Biofuel Engine Research Facility of QUT, under the supervision of Professor Richard Brown in association with Melbourne’s Deakin University with Dr Tim Bodisco who has Australian and United Kingdom experience with on-road vehicle testing.

Richard Brown said that the on-road truck test would be able to confirm the basic results of the previous research which found a 30% reduction in nitrogen oxide which contributes to photochemical smog, and lower particle mass which means fewer problems for emission treatment systems.

“We have been asked why we are adding ten percent of recycled tyre oil to the diesel and not using 100% tyre oil as the fuel we are testing. The answer is that diesel engines in Australia are designed to run on diesel fuel that is refined to a particular standard, while the tyre oil is an unrefined crude oil,” Brown said.

Pressure process

Green Distillation Technologies chief operating officer Trevor Bayley said that the research is important as they are currently building a plant in Perth, Western Australia to recycle oversize tyres.

He said: “We have already done the hard yards over the past year to work out the logistics of how to efficiently and economically recycle oversize tyres that weigh four tonnes through a complex heat and pressure process.

“The benefits of recycling oversize tyres are considerable as a tyre that weighs four tonnes will yield 1,500 litres of oil, 1.5 tonnes of carbon, as well as the steel reinforcing which n go back to the tyre manufacturer for reuse.

“The last Hyder Report in 2013-14 estimated that there are 155,000 tonnes of OTR end-of-life tyres of various sizes generated in Australia each year of which 79.4% are left on site as currently there is no economic and green method of recycling them.

“In addition, there are 1.5 billion tonnes of tyres discarded globally each year with Australia generating around 55 million disused tyres a year by 2020 and the USA more than 200 million.

“A recycled 10kg car tyre will yield 4kg of carbon, 1.5kg of steel and 4 litres of oil while the 70kg truck tyre provides 28 kg of carbon, 11 kg of steel and 28 litres of oil.

“Getting rid of old tyres in an environmentally-friendly way is a universal nightmare for authorities. Stockpiles of used tyres around the world are a health hazard, as a result of fires at tyre dumps which are difficult to put out and generate huge amounts of toxic smoke and in tropical areas old tyres are a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, dengue fever and malaria.

“We have operated a pilot plant in Warren in Western New South Wales since 2009 and we plan to upgrade to a full production plant which will see it capable of processing 19,000 tonnes, or a mix of 658,000 car and truck tyres per year.”