Tyre recycler Green Distillation Technologies, which operates a processing plant at Warren in Western New South Wales and is in the capital fund raising stage for another in Toowoomba, Southern Queensland, will conduct the first industrial trials of a revolutionary new thermoelectric device from the United States that converts heat to electric power.
The devices, which fit around the exhaust flue, have some similarities to the rooftop polyvoltaic panels used in solar energy generation, but convert heat to electric energy.
So far, all the prototype testing has been confined to the laboratory in the US and this will the first field trials to be conducted anywhere in the world.
Green Distillation Technologies Chief Operating Officer Trevor Bayley said the electric power needed to operate their tyre processing facility is expensive.
“This problem is compounded for us at Warren as our power travels 500 kilometres from the Hunter Valley and we can suffer a significant transmission loss, which means we are paying a premium for power that we don’t get.
“We had considered installing a solar energy system, but we don’t really have any large flat roof surfaces and the only waste that comes from our process is heat and our exhaust stack, which is connected to the six processing modules and maintains a constant temperature that is ideal for thermoelectric generation, using this technology,” he said.
Mr Bayley explained that their recycling process turned old end-of-life tyres into oil, carbon and steel and their emissions are scrubbed so that they conform to NSW Environment Protection Agency guidelines.
“We use our own oil as the heat source for the tyre processing, which is what generates the waste heat so that we have created a further cycle by using oil we have created from old tyres to generate some of the electricity needed to operate the plant.
“Our tyre recycling technology is a world first and has created considerable international interest and as a result we were offered the opportunity of testing this new thermoelectric power generation system.
“At this stage we envisage that the system will only generate sufficient power for our own needs and not provide any excess for the grid or other users,” he said.
“We have a different problem at Toowoomba as we have received a Queensland Government Environmental Licence and Development Approval from the Toowoomba Regional Council, but we were not successful in getting the $5 million Queensland Government recycling grant to pay 50 per cent of the estimated construction cost. That decision has meant that we have to either find the money from private investment or re-evaluate the project and focus our attention elsewhere.
“When we made the application, we were assured we had a good chance for success and our priority for Toowoomba is to take up the government’s offer to meet and discuss why we were not successful and see if we should reapply, or to try and raise the funds from private investors,” he said.
Mr Bayley said that it would be a shame if they were not able to go ahead as he felt that the facility would play an important role in the future development of Toowoomba as a major regional transport hub.
“As well as raising funds to build the Toowoomba facility, bringing our Warren tyre recycling plant up to full production is a top priority following the recent awarding of Environmental Permission by the NSW authorities after a four year delay.
“We have always believed that once we had all the government permissions in place it was then down to business, build the remainder of Warren plant to full design capacity, process tyres and generate income from the sale of our recycled oil, carbon and steel.
“Our plant design is for six tyre processing modules at Warren and our next step is the immediate building of modules two to six.
“We already have the parts to build two of these modules while we raise capital to build the other three and achieve the capacity to process approximately 700,000 old tyres per year into eight million litres of oil, 7,700 tonnes of carbon black and 2,000 tonnes of steel, which represents approximately three per cent of the end-of-life tyres that are generated in Australia each year.