CLERMONT-FERRAND, France — Group Michelin has agreed to coordinate a public-private European consortium launched earlier this year to develop "world-first" processes to recycle end-of-life tires (ELTs) into materials that can be used for the production of new tires.
Officially funded by the European Union in May for three years, the BlackCycle project's goal is to create, develop, and optimize a "value-chain form ELT feedstock" to secondary raw materials (SRMs) with no waste of resources and specific attention to the environmental impact.
These SRMs will be used to develop new ranges of passenger car and truck tires, which will be sold commercially in European and global markets, Michelin said.
BlackCycle involves 13 organizations, including seven industrial partners, five research and technological organizations and an innovation cluster from five countries, Michelin announced Sept. 3.
With an overall budget of $17.8 million, the "unique" public-private partnership will examine the technical, environmental, and economic viability of circular processes for the production of sustainable secondary raw materials (SRM) for new tires.
The EU is contributing 76.5% of the budget for BlackCycle, with the rest coming from the participating entities.
The raw materials produced by the new processes will be used to develop new ranges of passenger car and truck tires, to be sold commercially in European and global markets, Michelin said.
The consortium members come from France, Germany, Greece, Spain and Switzerland.
It will address various aspects of ELT collection and feedstock selection, pyrolysis optimization, oil refining and valorization, furnace process optimization and sustainable tire performance assessment, according to Michelin.
The project is expected to enable the incorporation of nearly half of European ELTs into new tires in as early as five to six years, the tire maker added.
According to Michelin, 1.6 billion new tires — more than 26 million metric tons — are sold worldwide each year, all of which could end up as ELTs.
With existing recycling processes not being "circular," the BlackCycle project aims to provide solutions that will enable the use of ELTs in the production of new tires, Michelin said.
The project also expects to reduce the amount of waste tire exports out of the EU, as the region ships more than half of end-of-life and second-hand tires to "far-off countries."
In addition, Michelin said, the BlackCycle value chain is anticipated to lower the tire industry's production-related carbon footprint by 0.93 kg CO2/kg tires.
According to the EU's documents on the project, Michelin is contributing $3.9 million.
Other entities involved in the BlackCycle project include:
- Aliapur, France — $1 million;
- Axelera/Association Chimie-Environnement Lyon et Rhone-Alpes, France — $315,000;
- Orion Engineered Carbons G.m.b.H., Germany — $1.2 million.