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Forget TV Dinners: Microwaving Tires is the Next Big Thing

Disposing of the nearly 300 million car tires that are ditched every year in North America isn’t easy. Burying them takes up way too much space, and recyclers are often hard to find.

tires2


Disposing of the nearly 300 million car tires that are ditched every year in North America isn’t easy. Burying them takes up way too much space, and recyclers are often hard to find. We’ve seen tires upcycled by enterprising companies into shoe soles, bags, and even flower pots. But New Jersey’s Global Resource Corporation has found a novel way to deal with old tires: microwave them.

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The company is starting up a factory on Monday outside of Chicago that produces huge microwave chambers to heat up tires into oil for use as feedstock in oil refineries, gases that can be burned for electricity, and a material that can be burned in coal plants. It’s not hard to squeeze oil out of tires; tires are made out of oil in the first place, and GRC’s microwave just rearranges hydrogen and carbon molecules.

Plants using GRC’s microwave chambers will get a lot of bang for their buck. According to the company, a plant that uses the chamber to process one ton of tires per hour will cost $7.5 million, but it could produce 400 more kilowatts than the microwave consumes–that’s enough to juice up a small supermarket.

GRC’s technology may not be entirely green–coal plants spew CO2 like there’s no tomorrow–but better that we use the oil we already have instead of drilling in the ground for more.

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[Via Green Inc.]

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more

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