Huge OTR tires used to be stockpiled or illegally dumped by owners of heavy equipment, as there is really not much use for them anymore when they become worn out. Today, it is gradually changing.
Did you know that some items in your house were once part of huge off the road tires used by trucks and other heavy equipment? Those colorful non-slip door mats you have and floor coverings that workshops or big kitchens use were once old black OTR tires. In fact, processing tires into other products has become an industry in itself and as revealed by HSBC Global Connections, is now a burgeoning eco-empire. But how were they transformed into such wonderful creations? Today, you’ll learn some of the answers to that mystery.
The First Step
Old OTR tires are first hosed down to remove dirt and other particles. In many cases, the sidewalls are then removed because it’s the part that contains the most metals. They will also be processed and recycled, albeit in a different manner. The middle sections are then readied for feeding to the OTR tire recycling machine, Western Tire Recyclers explains.
Some of the major components of this machine are the shredder, grater, granulator, and milling equipment. The shredder is composed of dozens of blades and is powered by huge turbine motors. Its job is to break down the OTR tires into shredded chips that are small enough to be processed by the grater.
Grating the shreds
The shredded chips are further grounded into small pieces. Depending on the size the client wants, the pieces are filtered using custom-made steel screens dotted with holes of varying sizes. The resulting mulch is then carried by a conveyor to a powerful magnet where it pulls the remaining small pieces of steel. These magnets are so strong that it can knock a metal tool off your hand.
The rubber mulch which are almost free of contaminants and by now are around one fourth of an inch in size, are fed to the granulator. Inside, a huge vacuum sucks the polyester off the metal-free mulch removing around 99.9% of this contaminant. It then grounds the contaminant-free rubber mulch into small granules and filtered again by custom-built screens.
Sometimes, these granules are painted then processed into non-slip mats or kitchen flooring. In an article published in Rethink Tires, they are also used in dozens of other ways such running surfaces in athletic tracks or as top layer in children’s’ playgrounds. In other cases, they are fed to the milling equipment to be ground into fine powder to be mixed with asphalt or used in other industrial applications.
The process that the OTR tires undergo is simple and straightforward. Nevertheless, it’s still amazing how those huge and unsightly tires can be processed and made into something beautiful and useful. Because of these remarkable machines, stockpiled or illegally dumped tires will be a thing of the past.