Tyromer Inc. launched to drive tire-recycling green business

Each one of us, man, woman and child, generates a scrap tire a year. Over 300 million are generated in North America. Scrap tires are difficult to recycle and have limited low value reuse applications, such as rubber mats, thus over half of scrap tires are burned for their fuel value. As a consequence of limited recycling options, many jurisdictions have embraced burning tires to recover about 25% of the energy that originally went into producing the tire.

 Left to Right Sam Visaisouk, President, Tyromer Inc.;  Professor Costas Tzoganakis, inventor, UW; Don McRae,  Technical Manager, AirBoss; John Bergman, VP,  Supply Management, AirBoss; Mohammad Meysami,  Ph.D. candidate, UW; and John Tomins, VP,  Sales and Marketing, AirBossHowever, if wider recycling applications were available it would be possible to recover about 95% of the original energy input. In order to promote the development of greener practices, some proactive jurisdictions such as Ontario and California have placed a moratorium on burning tires.

Enter Dr. Costas Tzoganakis, a Chemical Engineering faculty member, who discovered a process that unlocks the performance characteristics of scrap tire rubber by imparting rejuvenated performance characteristics that enable the scrap to be used in much more value added applications such as a feedstock for new tire manufacturing, automotive seals and a variety of other higher value products. The economics of this process are very favourable and will drive demand away from burning tires to recycling tires which can have a very significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This technology was developed based on research funding provided by the Ontario Centres of Excellence and was subsequently taken on as a Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo) project. WatCo assumed intellectual property management of the technology including investing in patent protection costs and registering the trademark, Tyromer™, to assist in marketing this new technology. WatCo further worked with Dr. Tzoganaskis to secure prototype development funding from the C4 Network to validate the research results in a scaled up pilot plant trial. Samples of the Tyromer™ rubber were produced in quantity and performance characterization was independently performed by an Ontario based rubber manufacturer. With scaled up performance validation and favourable process economics determined, in the summer of 2009 a new startup company, Tyromer Inc., was created and financed in part by a strategic start-up loan by the Michelin Development Corporation. With further assistance by WatCo, Tyromer Inc. has received additional funding from the Ontario Centres of Excellence to address the final scale-up technical design challenges. Tyromer Inc. intends to form a strategic collaboration with Kitchener based AirBoss, one of North America’s largest custom rubber compounders, who have provided valuable technical assistance in the development of Tyromer™ as a commercial product. Once full scale design issues have been worked out and a potential strategic first-customer, AirBoss, has been secured, WatCo will work with Tyromer Inc. to raise additional venture capital financing to literally put this green technology on the road to commercial success.