Vignesh Kumar Rajendran, one of the PDEng students at CTW/ME/MS3, got the poster award for Technology at the Dutch Polymer Days, held on March 16 and 17 in Lunteren. The topic of his design project is ‘Process-design for devulcanizatin of whole tire rubber’, and it is done in cooperation with Rumal as industrial partner and under the auspices of the department of Elastomer Technology & Engineering.
Within his project, he is developing a production scale recycling line for waste tires. Motivation for this project is the huge amount of used tires that is discarded annually: 800.000.000 tires, a pile 2/3 to the moon! Rumal’s interest is to make a higher value product from used tire material, which can be used in higher quality products and larger quantities.
The rubber from these tires will be devulcanized for a cradle-to-cradle loop of the post-consumer rubber back into new tires. The crucial step is the breakdown of the crosslink network, without breaking the polymer chains. This way the recycled material will resemble the original material in structure and properties, and the properties will be such that it can be re-used in considerable quantities in new tires.