Nanografen, a Graphene Flagship partner based in Turkey, is producing graphene from waste tyres with the goal of improving recycling systems and making automotive vehicles more eco-friendly.
By producing graphene in this way, Nanografen lowers the cost of graphene. Using waste tyres as a starting material – and applying recycling and upcycling technology for mass production in the plastic industry – is cheaper than many other forms of graphene production.
For these reasons among others, Nanografen’s innovative work shows both high market and environmental potential.
There currently exist significant problems in recycling waste tyres or ‘end-of-life’ tyres – meaning tyres from cars and other vehicles and devices that can no longer be used.
Indeed, waste tyres are one of the world’s most problematic sources of waste due to their large volume and the fact that they also contain a range of ecologically hazardous components. Burning waste tyres as a means of disposal generates a lot of smoke that caries toxic chemicals, like carbon monoxide and sulphur oxides.
Tyre graveyards also take up an increasing amount of space worldwide, and mechanical recycling of tyres does not occur on a large enough scale to tackle the problem sufficiently. Meanwhile, thermal recycling techniques are not efficient.
This means that Nanografen’s repurposing of waste tyres in fact creates a market opportunity. Conversion of waste tyre to recycled carbon black, to graphene, leads to possibilities for graphene to become an impactful part of the thermoplastic composites market. Thermoplastic composites are used across all sorts of industries, including aerospace, textiles, automotive, construction, energy storage, renewable energy, and flame retardants.