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Q&A: Sam Visaisouk, CEO, Tyromer

The Retread Tire Association (RTA) speaks with Tyromer CEO, Sam Visaisouk, about the testing of its new tire-derived polymer recycled rubber product in truck and passenger car tires

 

Please tell us the process you’ve developed for creating tire derived polymer. 
As we developed this process for creating a recycled tire-derived polymer (TDP), we kept three things in mind. One, it must be cheap, because it doesn’t matter how good the technology or the product is, if it’s not cheap it won’t be used. Two, it has to be environmentally sustainable because that is the world we live in. And three, it must be good enough for tires because the tire industry takes up 50% of the global rubber supply. If it does not go into tires, we have no place to sell it.

Retreading is scrap prevention – one truck retread prevents the equivalent generation of six scrap passenger tires. Retreading is the best practice in scrap tire management. We believe TDP offers the retread industry an innovation that can enhance its competitiveness. We welcome collaboration with the industry, so together we can help prevent scrap tire generation.

How did the collaboration with AirBoss come about? 
Starting a small company with no rubber experience, the only way we could move forward is through collaboration with industry partners. Fortunately, [compounder and rubber product maker] AirBoss is five minutes from the university, so I went to AirBoss and said, “Here’s an opportunity where we might be able to make an impact together. Can you help us?”

The previous AirBoss leadership was very supportive, and that support continues now with Chris Bitsakakis, chief operating officer and president of the rubber solutions division of the company.

How is Tyromer moving forward? 
With the apprehension [in the industry] of recycled material, we must grow by leveraging success in one area into another. For example, we are working with a major OTR manufacturer to extend the use of TDP beyond retreading.

With a global brand, we validated TDP for use in truck and passenger tires in both tread and sidewall applications. We are now commissioning our second facility, in Windsor, Ontario,Canada, to supply this customer.

Now if TDP is good enough for new truck tires, there’s no reason it can’t be used in pre-cure. This enables us to go from OTR retreading into truck retreading.

What does the future look like for Tyromer? 
We are planning to set up an operation in California to demonstrate the circular economy business model in which buffing from retread dealers will be used to make TDP to be incorporated into pre-cure. This circular business concept has received very strong support from retread dealers and CalRecycle.

As scrap tire management is a global problem, our strategy is to work with partners, and not be everywhere doing it all on our own. For example, we have a licensed operation in China and prospective ones in the USA, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Tire rubber is a high-tech material, and TDP can be optimized to meet many requirements. Only through collaboration with the tire industry can we expand its use.

March 22, 2018

 

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