Inventor aims to improve tyre recycling

Balclutha inventor and systems analyst Dave Ward says existing solutions for tyre recycling are only storing up problems for later generations. Photo: Richard Davison
Balclutha inventor and systems analyst Dave Ward says existing solutions for tyre recycling are only storing up problems for later generations. Photo: Richard Davison
A South Otago inventor hopes to use a little Kiwi ingenuity to solve a tyre-some problem.

Balclutha systems analyst Dave Ward was inspired to improve the way vehicle tyres are recycled after learning of the health and environmental issues caused by existing techniques.

In particular, Mr Ward was concerned by the effects on the environment of the long-term degradation of tyre crumb - often used as playground matting - and on human respiratory health of tyre pyrolysis byproduct carbon black.

Although the commonly used process of pyrolysis remained his preferred method of tyre disposal, as it allowed valuable resources to be retrieved and on-sold, pyrolysis plants were often flawed, Mr Ward said.

He and mechanical engineer business partner Walt Smith's solution to the approximately 28million tyres per year disposed of in New Zealand was a straightforward refinement of pyrolysis, with an emphasis on health, safety and efficiency, he said.

''We've approached the problem from a processing, rather than emotive viewpoint. When you look at the process and make incremental improvements in many different places, you can make a big difference overall.''

He and Mr Smith had established a Givealittle campaign to fund the patenting and development of the technology and project, and planned ultimately to build a ''mid-scale'' plant in Benhar.

By building multiple, smaller plants locally, issues around the costly transport and storage of tyres could also be solved, Mr Ward claimed.

At present, Clutha District Council sent tyres to Christchurch for processing, which was reflected in disposal costs, he said.

Council waste officer Steve Clarke said Mr Ward's innovation was to be commended, and the council would support the project ''where [it could]''.

''We'll be keeping a watching brief on progress.

''However, we'd need to see progress in a pre-application sense to gauge the merits of the project before offering further support.''

Mr Ward said he hoped to have a working prototype in operation early next year.

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

 

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