As seen on Discovery Channel's Daily Planet earlier this month, New Jersey-based Global Resource Corporation has patented a new technology that uses microwave energy to extract oil from waste tires without producing toxic emissions.
The GRC process uses tires to produce carbon black, which is typically used to make more rubber. GRC estimates that it can convert a ton of waste tires into as much as 400 pounds of reusable carbon black, which typically sells for $2,000 a ton.
GRC is currently researching other products from which to extract energy, such as municipal solid waste (MSW). Both tires and MSW are already burned for fuel, but in this process carbon dioxide is released, creating questions about the eco-friendliness of waste-to-energy processes. The GRC process does not use oxygen to produce energy, therefore carbon dioxide is not produced as a byproduct.
The issue of how to dispose of tires is of environmental importance, as states face growing stockpiles, and the health impacts of using shredded tires in other capacities continues to be a topic of debate. GRC is looking to roll out its first tire recycling machine for commercial use next year.
"The ultimate goal is for this technology to make such a significant contribution that it motivates the world’s business and political leaders to embrace it as the de facto standard for processing waste materials," says Eric Swain, GRC's chairman and CEO.