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Finnish firm to start recycling waste tyres, turn them into oil

Using a modification of an old method, the Finnish firm Ecomation says it will open a tyre recycling facility next month, enabling the company to transform old tyres into oil on an industrial scale. The company's CEO says their process was refined in Finland and thinks that their method could become popular around the world.

Loppuun ajettuja autonrenkaita.
Finland already recycles virtually all of the 50,000 tonnes of waste tyres the country uses every year. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Finland already recycles virtually all of the 50,000 tonnes of used tyres that get worn out on the country's roads and highways every year.

A firm based in Salo, Ecomation, says that it will open a facility in Nokia in October which - by using a modified method of pyrolysis - turns used car and truck tyres into oil that can be used for heating and also be further turned into diesel or petrol at a refinery.

Pyrolysis involves heating materials at high temperatures in an oxygen-free environment.

The high heat breaks the tyres down into individual components, resulting in the ability to extract the tyres' individual components - like oil, carbon, gases and steel - which can then be used again.

Earlier attempts of the method have been made in Finland, but weren't successful on a large scale.

New method of pyrolysis

Ecomation CEO Tommi Pajala says his firm uses their own modified version of pyrolysis.

"Ours is the first pyrolysis plant in Finland that extracts oil from tyres on an industrial scale, and our Nokia facility is the most modern and safest of its kind in the world," Pajala says.

He says that the company plans to use up to 8,000 tonnes of waste tyres per year, and says the process does not emit any emissions at all, and that the oil it produces is of high grade.

Pajala says that until now pyrolysis plants have not been very sophisticated, and that the equipment they use has taken eight years to get right.

In practice, Finland already recycles virtually all of the 50,000 tonnes of waste tyres that drivers go through every year.

Some of Finland's old tyres are retreaded and used again, but most are recycled into other materials or burned for energy production.

Tyres that get recycled are used whole, chopped- or ground up and used in the manufacture of various road asphalt products. Waste tyres are also used in products like artificial grass on football pitches and playground surfaces.

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