Aquajet Ltd. has been established to exploit a technology for recycling truck tires and other rubber based products that have reached the end of their useful life. Globally, over one billion tires reach the end of their useful life each year. From the 2006 European Landfill Directive, over 95% of all end of life tires were reprocessed in some way in Europe.
The most commonly used rubber recycling technologies are dry ambient grinding, wet ambient grinding and cryogenic grinding. All of them start from shredded tires, which affects the purity of the recycled rubber. Ambient grinding cannot achieve small rubber particle sizes. Cryogenic grinding can, because rubber becomes brittle at very low temperatures, but the process is expensive. It also suffers from the problem of impurities.
Aquajet has developed a rubber recycling technology based on a proprietary process of milling whole tires with ultra high pressure (UHP) water jets. It uses whole truck tires as input, with no need for preliminary shredding. The tread, sides and interior of the tires are treated separately, making it possible to separate the differing rubber compounds recovered. The remaining carcass can be sold as scrap metal.
With lowest ecological impact, the rubber powder produced is arguably the best rubber recyclate available: It has a very high surface-to-weight ratio, perfectly metal and textile free, displays no surface oxidation or thermal degradation, has a high degree of homogeneity, shows outstanding revulcanization characteristics, and is PAH compliant. The product has a wide range of applicability in the rubber industry, mainly in tire production
Efforts for in-material reutilization of rubber content of end-of-life tires (ELTs) have a history of several decades but real breakthrough has not been achieved yet. The very reason is that recyclates made by conventional mechanical grinding have limited direct revulcanization properties. The rubber powder made by ultra-high pressure waterjet milling however shows such outstanding chemical bonding abilities that make rubber material ready for immediate compounding into different rubber and plastics materials.
The Hungarian Aquajet Ltd. is the very first to realize a truck-tire waterjet milling technology completely in its pilot plant that produces industrially applicable products. Products of the technology are fine rubber powder in the range of 50-400 microns and fine rubber crumb of 500-1500 microns. Instead of conventional shredding and mechanical grinding of tires, this technologyapplies only ultra-high pressure water jet for extraction and simultaneous milling of rubber parts, leaving the reinforcing metal parts intact. The technology has been developed formilling of old tires, but it can be adapted for milling of elastic polymers of different status and physical appearance (e.g. vulcanized rubber factory rejects, conveyor belts etc.), for efficient reprocessing of their valuable raw materials.
This innovative technology has been acknowledged by the special prize of EEP Award.
„Due to the support of the Norwegian Grants, AquaJet Ltd. has finalized their plant developments. By launching a new production line and renewing the existing ones, the plant is now capable of producing up to 770 tons of waterjet-milled rubber powder.
The project was implemented within the framework of the Norwegian Green Industry Innovation Program, the Fund received HUF 412 million in non-refundable aid to the company. The total cost of development amounted to HUF 750 million.
Through Norway Grants and EEA Grants, Norway’s purpose is to reduce social and economic disparities and strengthening of bilateral relations with the recipient countries in Europe. Norway’s contribution in the period 2009-2015 amounted to EUR 1.7 billion. The main areas of support include environmental protection and climate change, research and scholarships, civil society, health, equal opportunities for children and gender, justice and the protection of cultural heritage.”