19 May 2021
Where the rubber hits the road: Australia-first crumb rubber bitumen blending plant means fewer tyres going to waste
World-leading equipment specifically designed for blending crumbed rubber and bitumen has been installed and commissioned for the first time in Australia by construction giant Fulton Hogan in partnership with Tyre Stewardship Australia.
Fulton Hogan’s General Manager (Northern Region), Richard Pearson, said the Queensland roads built using the open, dense and gap-graded crumb rubber asphalt produced at the new plant would be significantly more durable, longer lasting, quieter and safer than roads paved with conventional asphalt.
“Fulton Hogan builds the infrastructures that make the modern world work – from bridges to wastewater plants and from airports to roads,” Mr Pearson said.
“But these structures and developments are never an end in themselves. The ultimate end, as we see it, is a better quality of life for us all, by making the communities in which we live and work better and safer.
“Crumb rubber modified bitumen used as a binder for asphalt mixes for community roads is a tangible contribution to the environment through recycling used-tyres, and a lower life-cycle cost of the resulting road pavement.
“It’s about taking a waste stream – in this instance, used tyres – through to an environmentally beneficial product to build infrastructure of critical value.”
The new blending plant, located at Fulton Hogan’s Geebung emulsion manufacturing plant in Brisbane, is the first in Australia to use the US equipment. The newly completed design includes the fabrication and installation of a static 25tph bitumen rubber blending plant which will use the existing bitumen tanks to supply the super-heated bitumen to the rubber blending plant.
“Although more than half of Australia’s old tyres are recycled, upcycled or processed to make other products, like crumb rubber in roads, the equivalent of 27 million car tyres are wasted every year. These often end up in landfill, stockpiles or are exported overseas,” CEO of Tyre Stewardship Australia, Lina Goodman, said.
“When fully operational, Fulton Hogan’s plant is expected to blend 500 tonnes of crumb rubber every year. This equates to more than 83,000 end-of-use tyres.
“And this will be the first time this world leading specific plant equipment from the US has been used in Australia. Other plants currently in use are predominantly polymer blending plants adapted to blend crumb rubber. This Australia-first initiative is such an exciting one for Tyre Stewardship Australia to be involved with.”
Chris Lange, Fulton Hogan’s Technical Manager (Northern Region) said the installation and commissioning of the new crumb rubber plant – including connection to the existing facility’s pipeworks and services – was completed in April.
Tyre wastes were reported to be the most common litter or illegally dumped wasted in Queensland, according to the most recent data from local councils. According to TSA data, Queensland generated more than 102,000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres in 2018-19. Ms Goodman said the data highlighted the opportunities available for development of local tyre processing/recycling facilities and signified the importance of recycling from both the environmental and local business growth perspectives.
Tyre Stewardship Australia has contributed $150,000 to the project. “As a material derived from end-of-life tyres, crumb rubber boasts a number of environmental benefits as a recycled product – benefits that are being realised across the Australian roads and infrastructure sector,” Ms Goodman concluded.
“Finding innovative and sustainable ways of using old tyres is vital and crumb rubber asphalt roads are the perfect solution to a waste problem.”
The National Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme, implemented by TSA, helps to reduce the environmental, health and safety impacts of the 56 million tyres that reach the end of their life in Australia every year.
The voluntary scheme consists of representatives from across the tyre supply chain including retailers, manufacturers, auto-brands, recyclers and collectors.
TSA has to date committed over $6 million to projects that use end-of-life tyres in new value-added products such as crumb for roads, permeable paving in our cities, and soft tracks for equine and athletics stadiums.
For further information and imagery/vision or to organise an interview please contact Marissa Johnston, TSA Business Manager
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