By Jeff Todd

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado company is hoping to change the way millions of tires are recycled in the U.S. each year and help create new products with the byproduct. The process includes shredding tires, removing the metal to be recycled, and then vaporizing the existing tire chunks.

(credit: CBS)

“We work with tires which is predominately a petroleum-based product. Therefore, the two big things it has in it is carbon black and petroleum. And we developed a process to extract all that back out,” said Tony Wibbeler of Bolder Industries.

(credit: CBS)

The vapor gas is used to power the facility, and the solid is turned into a proprietary product called “Boulder Black.” It’s similar to Carbon Black which is used in nearly all plastic and rubber products that are the color black.

“We reuse 99.5 percent of the tire,” Wibbeler said. “We’re in over 70 products in the world right now that are on the shelves.”

(credit: CBS)

Bolder Industries is working with companies to use its “Bolder Black” in products. They’ve worked with companies like Patagonia and Otter Box, as well as hose manufacturers and other companies that use plastic or rubber.

(credit: CBS)

“The goal was we wanted to be net energy positive, which we’ve accomplished that. We wanted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve done that. And we wanted to reduce water usage,” Wibbeler said. “We hope to be able to build many plants.”

Jeff Todd

  1. David Sweedler says:

    At best a tire is 28 percent carbon black. A standard passenger car tire is roughly equal amounts (by mass) of petroleum products, natural rubber latex and carbon black. Another 2-4 pounds of steel belting and remaining stuff (~16 percent) is proprietary functional materials and chemicals. So what’s the big deal about burning a tire to recover the carbon black? It releases all that natural rubber and petroleum products and proprietary functional materials (72% of the total mass of that tire) as carbon dioxide. So from a carbon sequestation standpoint, this is returning 3/4 of the tires mass to the atmosphere as CO2 emmisions. Compare that to the horrible landfill results that mean the tires will be interred in a form that does not break down for thousands of years. Thousands of years of perfect carbon sequestration. For consumers worried about such things, the real penalty of a tire is the excess petroleum consumed over it’s lifetime due to underinflation and poor rolling resistance in search of extra performance and cornering abilities. That far outweighs the actual CO2 released when a tire is burned to recover the carbon.

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