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Tire recycler Ecolomondo aims for commercial operations

Ecolomondo's reactor, where the company processes end-of-life tires into recycled products. (Courtesy Ecolomondo Corporation)

Ecolomondo Corporation, a Montreal-based cleantech company that has developed a recycling technology for end-of-life tires, says it is ready to begin full processing capacity at its Hawkesbury, Ont. facility and enter commercial production.

Led by CEO and chairman Eliot Sorella, Ecolomondo says it has over 25 years of experience in the circular economy.

Ecolomondo's proprietary recycling technology – the Thermal Decomposition Process (TDP) – breaks down scrap tires into recovered carbon black, oil, gas, steel and fibre in thermal reactors utilizing pyrolysis.

It conducted two successful tests of the process in January totalling 8,600 pounds of material, according to a company release.

“We are finally getting close to kicking off commercial production in Hawkesbury,” Sorella said in the announcement. “Undertaking a huge project like Hawkesbury was challenging at the very least, and two years of COVID made it even more challenging.

"We are now entering a new phase in our company’s history.”

Ecolomondo’s TDP

In an overview document, Ecolomondo detailed how TDP works.

Tires are first shredded to crumb rubber while the steel and fibre is removed. The crumb rubber is loaded into a reactor as a 15,000-pound batch.

A five-hour thermal process takes place in the reactor, in which the rubber is heated with gas from a previous batch to alter the waste materials. The recycled oil and gas is generated in this step.

After the thermal process, the resource materials are extracted. Carbon black — materials used as colourants and reinforcing fillers in tires and other rubber products — is vacuumed from the reactor for final processing, and oil is broken up for other uses like lubricants, polymers and asphalt.

Ecolomondo says TDP is “a closed-loop pyrolysis technology that operates in an oxygen-free environment” that is “mostly energy self-sufficient.” TDP’s automated system is said to offer better control over the process, ensuring consistency and a 99.99 per cent resource recovery rate.

Each reactor, Ecolomondo says, saves 11,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of making virgin carbon black by 90 per cent.

The carbon black can be used as a strengthening agent for tire and rubber products; the oil becomes fuel and lubricants; the steel is recycled for other steel products; and the gas is used for the TDP process.

TDP helps address waste from tires. According to Canadian Association of Tire Recycling Agencies, the organization’s members across the country collected 436,590 tonnes of tires in 2021. Of those, 390,662 tonnes were recycled and 24,682 tonnes were sent to energy recovery, meaning 95 per cent of collected tires were diverted from landfills.

The Hawkesbury Facility

To showcase TDP, Ecolomondo built the facility in Hawkesbury, a city located along the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Montreal.

Ecolomondo was loaned $32.1 million in April 2019 by Export Development Canada to build the facility, which houses two reactors. A release says the facility cost $42 million to build.

In January 2023, Ecolomondo succeeded in recycling two tests of TDP. The first batch tested on Jan. 11 weighed in at 1,600 pounds, while a 7,000-pound batch was tested on Jan. 25. The tests allowed Ecolomondo to identify potential issues and streamline the process, which led to improved efficiency.

“This is a very satisfying moment for me personally. To have achieved this milestone after 15 years of steadfast commitment is gratifying," Sorella said in a release discussing the tests.

Based on the success of the January tests, Ecolomondo is preparing both reactors to process 15,000-pound batches of end-of-life tires, which prepares the company for commercial operations.

After achieving the 15,000-pound threshold, Ecolomondo expects to grow its production starting with one batch per day, followed by two batches per day and ending with six batches per day by June 2023.

The Hawkesbury plant is expected to recycle 1,980 batches per year and produce: 5,300 tons of recovered carbon black, 42,700 barrels of oil, 1,800 tons of steel, 1,600 tons of gas and 850 tons of fiber.

Ecolomondo's customers and future

The Hawkesbury facility will generate revenue from the sale of the recovered materials.

In March 2022, Ecolomondo said it secured an initial purchase order from a multinational corporation for pyrolysis oil produced from recovered end-of-life tires, and an offtake agreement for up to 80 per cent of its recovered carbon black production from the Hawkesbury facility.

In September 2022, Ecolomondo acquired a 136.76-acre parcel of land in Shamrock, Tex. as the home for a proposed six-reactor TDP facility.

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