US Old Tyres to Oil Programme Goes Ahead
(Akron/Tire Review) A group of investors led by a North Dakota man is moving ahead with plans to turn old tyres into oil. Ervin Lee of Minot, North Dakota, and his group of investors, including his brothers and Ron Nichols, the inventor of the oil-from-tyres process, bought a 9,000-ton pile of tyres from Moorhead’s former Tire Depot earlier this year.
The group has been hauling tyres from the site to its testing plant on a farm in Berthold, in north central North Dakota. After the tyres are shredded, workers extract oil and other petroleum products using a patented process involving heat and a chemical catalyst.
Their experimental plant in Berthold heats the tyres to a temperature less than 800 degrees Fahrenheit before a “secret” chemical compound is added that breaks down the tyres. Materials collected from the process include carbon black, butane gas, scrap metal and fuel oil.
If the tyre recycling works as planned, Lee’s group hopes to someday build a $15 million facility in the Fargo-Moorhead area that would process 3,000 tyres a day and employ up to 35 people. “This technology is absolutely phenomenal,” Moorhead City Manager Bruce Messelt said. “It is amazing to think we’re close to having this be a viable technology.”
Busch Agricultural Resources of Moorhead, the barley malting company partnering with Lee’s group, held a public hearing May 16 as part of a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency application process to test the alternative fuel resulting from the used tyres and change its air emissions permit.
The MPCA may hold its own public hearings on the matter during a 30-day notification period that will begin soon, depending on whether it gets a public request for the hearings.
But the permit change probably won’t be a problem because fuel from tyre oil is less harmful to the environment than the oil now used by Busch Agricultural Resources, said Dan Olson, an MPCA spokesman.
If the permit change is approved, the MPCA will visit the Busch plant and help run emission tests on the fuel, said Paul Lee, a brother of Ervin Lee and a spokesman for the investor group.
Results from the test will be made public, said Gregory Ballentine, the Moorhead Busch plant manager. “We can provide (Busch) with a cost savings and still have a profitable operation doing that,” Paul Lee said.