Used tires are a big problem in South Carolina. Waste tires are dumped in landfills and in undeveloped lots where they can sit for years without decomposing. It is especially an issue in rural areas, such as when officials found more than a million tires at an illegal dump site in Calhoun County.
But a new Charleston startup company says it has found a new way to recycle used tires in a process that is both profitable and environmentally-friendly.
PyroTec Inc., announced plans Wednesday to establish its corporate headquarters near Kiawah Island in Charleston County. The South Carolina Department of Commerce says the $10 million investment will create 75 new jobs.
“Waste tires are a unique problem,” said Walter Hahne, PyroTec’s vice president of logistics, “It is a real severe problem because a good portion of them are landfilled.”
PyroTec officials say their “green recycling” company will recover component materials from the tires and other waste, and then resell those materials. For example, its patented process extracts oil, carbon black, syngas and steel from scrap tires. Those components are then sold to the open market as commodities.
Hahne said tires offer materials like oil, steel, and “carbon black.” The company extracts the materials through a process known as pyrolysis. Pyrolysis involves heating the shredded material without the use of oxygen, which vaporizes the rubber and separates it from other materials.
While tire pyrolysis has been around for years, it has not been economically viable due to the large amount of carbon char left behind in the process. Hahne said the right process can refine that char into “carbon black,” a valuable material that is used as a pigment, as well as reinforcement in rubber and plastic products.
“Carbon black is mainly imported,” Hahne said. “It’s very expensive. We will be very competitive in that market.”
PyroTec hopes to be the first company to solve the problem of refining carbon black. The company says the process meets 2012 EPA regulations.
It will begin hiring for the new positions in July, although Hahne says the company is still hoping to get backing from investors before starting work. Once that funding is secured, PyroTec will be running in eight months, he adds.
Anyone interested in job opportunities with the company should contact Management Recruiters of the Low Country at 843-628-5021. Alternatively, individuals interested in working for PyroTec as well as investors with questions concerning the company can contact Walter Hahne at 1-800-PyroTec.