Michelin joins tire recycling efforts in France

Tire maker allies with other companies and trade group to develop markets for scrap tires.

February 4, 2014
RTGE Staff
Legislation & Regulations Tires

Michelin has announced that its tire recycling project (TREC) is partnering with the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA); biotechnology company Proteus; and Solides Divisés Technologies (SDTech), an industrial company specializing in ultrafine powders, to develop two new uses for used tires.

The first project, TREC Regeneration, involves regenerating rubber compounds to make new tires, while the second, TREC Alcohol, will entail the production of a chemical intermediate needed to synthesize raw materials used in the tire manufacturing process. The alcohol derived from used tires will be included in the BioButterfly butadiene production project along with biomass alcohol from sources such as sugar, wood and agricultural waste.

According to Michelin, with the TREC Regeneration program SDTech and Protéus will share their know-how with Michelin to create a micropowder that can be used as a raw material to produce new high-performance tires.

With the TREC Alcohol program, Michelin, the CEA and Protéus will develop a chain of technologies ranging from used tire gasification to syngas fermentation to produce alcohol.

TREC is backed by a 51 million euros ($69 million) budget extending over eight years. France's Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) will provide 13.3 million euros ($18 million) to Michelin and SDTech as part of the French government’s “Investing in the Future” program.

“Michelin’s innovation strategy consistently focuses on making the best possible use of raw materials,” says Terry Gettys, director of R&D at Michelin. “The TREC project is a perfect example of ecodesign, and it will help us make new high-performance tires using quality raw materials from used tires, thanks to the shared expertise of the CEA, Protéus and SDTech.”

Juliette Martin, CEO of Protéus, comments, “Since it was founded in 1998, Protéus has become a benchmark in industrial biotechnology for sustainable development. We are very pleased to be able to leverage the industrial power of the micro-organisms in our collection and of the enzymes and bioprocesses we’re developing to help further Michelin’s sustainable mobility strategy.”

“As an innovator in the area of micro-powders, SDTech has always been ready to contribute its knowhow to collaborative projects in France and internationally,” says Jalil Benabdillah, chairman and CEO of SDTech. “SDTech is honored to be participating in the TREC project with such a prestigious group of partners and to see its R&D expertise recognized at this level. We know that we must remain effective and consistently innovative to live up to Michelin's expectations.”

Florence Lambert, director of the CEA’s Liten Institute, adds, “We are pleased to provide Michelin with our expertise in gasification processes. CEA teams have the capabilities to design, engineer and carry out thermo-chemical processes from the very beginning and with our support, Michelin will be able to validate its technological choices.”