World-leading university in sustainability partners with cutting-edge Nordic circularity company to undertake 18-month research study 

 

NEWCASTLE / LONDON  – 7th July 2022Wastefront AS and Newcastle University today announce a partnership to undertake a study into the characterisation and enhancement of Wastefront’s recovered carbon black (rCB).  

As one of the UK’s top universities and a world leader in sustainability, Newcastle University’s partnership with Wastefront will see cutting-edge industry innovation emerge from research conceived in the North of England – ensuring the region is at the forefront of progressing circularity across Europe.  

The work is timely, as Wastefront gears up to play a crucial role in eliminating the UK’s waste tyres export, by creating a local, circular solution to a global problem. Through preventing the burning of waste tyres in cement kilns, Wastefront will use commercial operating technologies to convert end-of-life-tyres (ELTs) into useful commodities including rCB. 

 

The study will focus on rCB interaction with rubbers and its correlation with prospective industrial applications, directly supporting Wastefront’s efforts to enable the rCB it produces to be used in new products. The scope of work undertaken by Newcastle University over the next 18 months will:  

  1. Quantify the interaction of the rCB with a set of different solvents which have varying degrees of dispersion interaction. 
  1. Develop methods to better understand the nature of the surface within the rCB material. 
  1. Investigate applications for the rCB in other materials. 

 

Of significance, within this scope of work, the study will develop methods to reduce inorganic components in rCB, improving its chemical and material properties to ensure Wastefront produces a superior product compared with its rCB competitors. This will include identifying rCB reinforcement in rubber goods. 

The team from Newcastle University undertaking the rCB study will be: 

  • Professor Katarina Novakovic – Principal Investigator, Reader in Polymer Engineering 
  • Professor Steve Bull – Co-Investigator, Cookson Group Chair of Engineering Materials  
  • Dr Deepashree Thumbarathy – Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Chemical Engineer 
  • Dr Tim Blackburn, Business Development Manager 

 

Wastefront CTO, Henrik Selstam, comments: “Circularity is central to the work Wastefront is undertaking to tackle the scourge of ELTs – and expanding our understanding of recovered carbon black is key to realising this goal. As we continue to grow, so too will the uses and capabilities of the products we produce – none more so than recovered carbon black. 

 

“We are delighted to partner with Newcastle University to further advance the commercial capabilities of recovered carbon black through our joint studies. “Ensuring we can continue to implement our at-scale solution in the UK, Europe and Globally will require the input of leading experts in their fields, so we look forward to working closely with Professor Novakovic, Professor Bull, Dr Thumbarathy and Dr Blackburn in the months ahead.” 

 

Newcastle University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research Strategy and Resources, Professor Brian Walker, adds: “At Newcastle University we are delighted to add this exciting partnership with Wastefront to our portfolio of research that advances sustainable innovation and the circular economy and enables progress towards a net-zero economy. We are especially pleased that Wastefront will promote inclusive economic growth here in the North East, with its roots in the local area and the construction of its new plant at the Port of Sunderland.” 

 

Wastefront uses pyrolytic reactors that utilise thermal depolymerisation known as ‘pyrolysis’ to break down a tyre’s materials at elevated temperatures. By sending tyres through these reactors, recovered carbon black (a substitute for virgin carbon black) is produced, in addition to combustible gas, liquid hydrocarbon, and heat. The carbon black is then washed and milled to upgrade the chemical properties and can be used as a complement to natural rubber in tyre production, mechanical rubber goods or as a filler for plastics.  

 

Once fully operational in 2025, Wastefront’s £100 million tyre recycling plant in Sunderland will produce rCB from a supply of 20% of the UK’s yearly total of ELTs. By integrating Wastefront’s rCB into new tyres, the emissions for each tyre subsequently produced will be reduced by 80%. 

 

About Wastefront AS 

Wastefront (www.wastefront.com) was founded in Oslo in 2019 and aims to reduce the negative environmental impact associated with end-of-life-tyre waste while delivering an economically attractive solution to strategic partners on a global scale. Wastefront combines commercial technology with its own proprietary process to minimise the environmental impact typically associated with traditional tyre pyrolysis, with an exceptionally circular process. Its first full-scale plant in Sunderland will have an annual capacity to process 80,000 metric tonnes of tyre waste and convert it into useful commodities, including biofuels, recycled steel and recovered carbon black. 

 

About Newcastle University 

Newcastle University is ranked 1st in the UK and 8th in the World for sustainable development in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. Through its world-class research and teaching and external engagement, to the way it operates as an institution, Newcastle University’s community – past, present and future – is playing a leading role in responding to urgent global challenges. The University has accelerated action towards tackling climate change and is investing £15 million per year on projects to decarbonise its use of heat and power towards meeting its commitment of net zero by 2030. 

 

For Wastefront media enquiries please contact  

Deliberate PR 

Connor Batty / Matt Lloyd 

connor@deliberate-pr.com / matt@deliberate-pr.com