CASTLE ROCK, Colo.—Some supermarket tomatoes may taste like old tires, but two firms hope to boost a greenhouse's ability to grow tastier tomatoes using scrap tires as fuel. Nathaniel Energy Corp. (NECX) and Able Tire Co. recently signed an agreement to create tire-derived fuel for Ripe Touch Greenhouses Inc. An NECX shredder operation will receive up to 7 million tires per year from Able Tire, a Dallas-area distributor.
Able Tire will drop scrap tires at an NECX shredding facility in Burleson, Texas. NECX then will ship the shredded tires via train to a proposed Ripe Touch greenhouse in Calhan, Colo., said Cesar Muniz of Managerial Advisory Services Inc., an adviser to NECX.
There, the tires will be burned to run a 7-megawatt power plant next to the proposed 20-acre greenhouse owned by Ripe Touch.
NECX expects to reap more than $10 million in annual sales from the deal with Able Tire, the firm said. Able Tire agreed to set up its collection process to enable NECX to receive tires daily.
It also agreed to pay NECX contractual tipping fees of 40 cents per passenger tire and $350 for each giant off-the-road tire, Mr. Muniz said.
Able Tire collects 22,000 scrap tires per day from tire retailers, owner Gary Humphreys said. Only 40 percent of those will be dropped off at the NECX shredder. The others are either resold or taken to other disposal units.
Although the firms agreed to the venture in April, the project's startup has been delayed by a pending title transfer on the land in Burleson where NECX plans to shred the tires, Mr. Muniz said.
Not everyone is convinced the venture will do everything it promises.
``There are not 7 million tires in this region,'' said Michael Blumenthal, executive director of the Scrap Tire Management Council. ``They haven't looked at all the supply and economic issues.''
The region isn't a high scrap-tire-generating area, he said.
It may take a year and a half to drop 7 million scrap tires at NECX, Mr. Humphreys said.
NECX CEO Stan Abrams expects Ripe Touch's greenhouse burner to incinerate 3 million shredded tires per year.