Recycled encapsulation rubber products present multiple problems after installation such as color and property loss due to exposure.
This means that these products have not been able to displace end-of-life tires or TPV (thermoplastic vulcanizates) industrial products from the market, which are non-recycled and currently used massively at a much higher cost and improvable quality.
Therefore, Sacyr Green and more specifically, Valoriza, are working on the project "New improved encapsulation rubber products" to improve the performance of encapsulation rubbers from end-of-life tires to make them more competitive by increasing their technical performance, as well as to automate the manufacturing process, consequently giving a new life to the tires, promoting recycling and the circular economy.
The overall objective of this project is to develop a new range of encapsulation rubber end-of-life tire products to use on safety pavements with improved performance in terms of color, elasticity and durability.
Environmental, strategic and business objectives include increasing the content of this type of waste by promoting the circular economy, boosting the added value of the materials generated in the treatment of end-of-life tires and developing a new product with high added value by expanding the business line, increasing Valoriza's competitive advantage.
The objective is to increase the production of encapsulation rubber from 400 t/year to 2,000 t/year by process automation; achieve more accurate results; improve product quality to make it more competitive; have a higher tire recovery rate, reduce production costs and obtain new products (prefabricated parts through the use of presses).
“This way, we will improve the performance of encapsulation rubber from end-of-life tires to make it more competitive by increasing its demand, in addition to automating the manufacturing process, giving a new life to these tires, promoting recycling and the circular economy,” explains Ana Benavent, Technical director of Valoriza.
EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is an ASTM M class kind of rubber, a thermosetting polymer with good abrasion and wear resistance. Therefore, it is mostly used in the areas of playgrounds that wear easily, such as the areas right after slides or the areas under swing sets where the feet may cause friction.
Chiloeches rubber recycling plant (Guadalajara)
The colors are very bright, but the problem is that they contain a lot of lime, so over time they turn white and lose that bright color and also tends to harden.
The advantage of this material is that it is not a black rubber granule coated with a colored layer, the material is the same color all the way through, which is why it is used in the wear areas of children's playgrounds, because, although it wears a little, the black color inside does not come through compared to encapsulation rubber and EPDM.
TPV are thermosoft plastics, a blend of a thermoplastic matrix and rubbers capable of vulcanizing. TPV also have a good resistance to abrasion and wear.
The pros of encapsulation rubber are:
- It is more sustainable, has a higher proportion of recycled materials originating from end-of-life tires (TPV does contain some recycled material, but in lesser amounts).
- It is more cost-efficient.
- It is more durable and elastic.