Coordinated by the global tyre giant Michelin and uniting seven industrial partners, five Research & Technological Organizations (RTOs) and an innovation cluster into a European consortium across five countries, the BlackCycle project aims to enable a massive circular economy of tyres by designing world-first processes to produce new tyres from end-of-life tyres (ELTs).
This unique European public-private partnership will demonstrate the technical, environmental, and economic viability of world-first circular processes. The consortium will develop specific solutions to produce sustainable raw materials for tyres: ELT collection and feedstock selection, pyrolysis optimisation, oil refining and valorisation, furnace process optimisation, and sustainable tyre performance assessment. As early as 5-6 years after the project, close to one out of every two European ELTs will be incorporated into the only virtuous cycle of this magnitude amongst all industrial sectors for the recovery of end of life products.
Funded by the Horizon 2020 program, BlackCycle has an overall budget of about €16m with an allocated European funding of about €12m (75% of project costs, see Fig. 1). About 35% of the project funding is allocated to SMEs, 15% to RTOs and 34% corresponds to the personnel costs.
1.6 billion new tyres are sold worldwide each year, representing more than 26 million tons, and just as many fall into the category of end-of-life tyres (ELT) providing a large and partially tapped potential for material recovery. Today’s ELT treatment processes are not circular and do not result in many raw materials that can be reused in the tyre industry. Furthermore, as there is not enough solution to valorise materials from ELT in the EU, more than half of EU end-of-life and second-hand tyres are exported to far-off countries.
The BlackCycle project aims at creating, developing, and optimising a full value chain form ELT feedstock to Secondary Raw Materials (SRMs), with no waste of resources in any part of the chain and a specific attention for the environmental impact. These SRMs will be used to develop new ranges of passenger car and truck tyres, which will be sold commercially in European and global markets.
As a result, the BlackCycle value chain as a lower carbon footprint emitting 0.93 kg/CO2/kg tyres less and a lower using of fossil resources, using 0.89 kg fossil/kg ELT less. By offering an economically and environmentally viable alternative, BlackCycle will reduce the export of end of life tyres.
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