OTR Wheel Engineering, 6 Riverside Industrial Park, was founded in 1987 and has grown exponentially through the intervening years and now operates sales and service facilities across six continents.
OTR is a one-source supplier for tires, wheels, foam fill and assembly of tire and wheel components for virtually any type of vehicle that rolls or crawls off the road.
A project that OTR President Fred Taylor and his engineers have been working on for the past half-decade is about to come online and take recycling to a new level.
Called Green Carbon Inc., Taylor said the project grew out of customers who had no acceptable solution for getting rid of off-the-road tires that were more than 48 inches in diameter.
Taylor’s engineering team embarked on a journey to find a way to process tires in an environmentally positive way.
“In the fall of 2007 we were able to successfully take tires and create oil from the tires,” Taylor said. All that was left was the steel.
As Taylor and his engineers continued to tinker with the process, the second generation reactor was able to remove the carbon black, tire black, from the reactor chamber, leaving steel, which can also be recycled.
As the tire is vaporized, the machine is able to separate the various gas streams, which are repressurized.
“When we start the reaction, we’re using natural gas and when the software, the computer, says there’s enough pressure built up in our system, it switches from the virgin natural gas to the synthetic gas that our tires create,” Taylor said. “Eighty-five percent of the energy that it takes to turn the car tire back into its original form being, tire black, steel, (and oil) is created by the tire itself.”
In the event you’re not an engineer, what has just happened is that you’ve pushed a couple of buttons and, whiz-bang, turned a tire back into its base components, creating more energy than you’ve used in the process.
Using one car tire that weighs 20 pounds, Taylor’s process is able to create 1.2 gallons of oil, approximately 7-8 pounds of carbon black, a powdery substance, and about 2 pounds of steel.
The energy that is in the oil and in the carbon black is eight times more than the energy that was used to process the tire, Taylor said.
“We call it, the first that I know of, a positive energy machine,” Taylor said.
Now you can understand why Shell Oil, Syncrude and other petroleum producers are extremely interested in Taylor’s process.
In October of 2010, Taylor took a portable machine to Calgary to demonstrate the process for several of the big companies and, needless to say, they were wowed.
“Representatives of Shell Oil want to come see the machine once it’s running,” Taylor said. “They’d like to get a contract to have us put a machine up there (northern Canada) and process all of these large tires.
The companies mining oil sands in Canada go through about 6,000, 63-inch tires every year. Taylor said it costs the companies approximately $2,000 per tire just to dispose of them.
Closer to home, the U.S. generates 300 million scrap tires a year. Run them through Taylor’s machine and you have 360 million gallons of oil, approximately 2.5 billion pounds of carbon black. That’s just car and truck tires. It doesn’t take agricultural or industrial tires into account.
“We’re taking a waste product and we’re creating more available energy,” Taylor said. That can save virgin energy. For instance, the oil can be processed and refined into gasoline, diesel, kerosene and other sub-components of petroleum that are used in all sorts of applications on a daily basis.
The powdery carbon black created from the vacuum reactor process, is being used to make a high speed tire in Thailand. Taylor said the new OTR Carbon Black tire would be taken to a test lab in Akron, Ohio, where engineers will test them versus traditional tires.
Taylor expects to have results in about six weeks. He thinks the results will prove that you can blend the OTR carbon black with the traditional compound and save upward of 600 million pounds of the traditional petroleum based carbon black annually. “We can save all this energy and reduce the carbon footprint,” Taylor said.
And don’t forget the steel that results from the process. “That steel can be reused and it takes 70-percent less energy to take scrap steel and convert it into new steel than if they start with pig iron and the other ingredients in making raw steel,” Taylor said.
The new production machine that Taylor will be testing soon can process more than 200 car or truck tires at a time. Each run takes about six hours, so the equipment could process as many as 1,000 tires a day, and that’s 1,000 tires a day not going into your community landfill.
“The unique thing about our machine is we give off no pollution,” he said. All we give off are trace amounts of CO2 and 200-plus degree hot air — that’s it.” The production unit is roughly equivalent to a 5,000-square-foot home using a natural gas furnace in the dead of the Coosa Valley winter as far as the carbon footprint goes.
Once the large-scale production is completed in a few weeks, Taylor’s intention is to take the process to other states where OTR has a presence — Mississippi, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Nevada and South Carolina.
During the next two years Taylor expects to have five or six machines running across the state of Georgia.
Atlanta alone generates close to two million scrap tires a year, he said.
Ever so environmentally sensitive, Taylor said, “Our goal is to minimize the carbon footprint of fuel consumption that people spend in moving scrap tires.”
The oil his process creates could be sold to refineries; the carbon black could be used in all sorts of applications, even your computer printer. The steel market is wide open.
Taylor has a draftsman doing all computer assisted drafting to be able replicate the machine for franchising purposes. He said a franchisee could yield a 100-percent return on investment within 14 months.
Customers could be knocking on the door at 6 Riverside Industrial park in Rome before the summer is out.
“We’ve had a lot of people that have heard about it, rumored about it,” Taylor said. “We’re very close.”
Taylor certainly wouldn’t mind a return on his investment. He said it has cost $3.7 million so far to develop the product.