The site is the first to be backed by VTTI. Credit: Wastefront

Sunderland to house ambitious Wastefront project

Norwegian waste tyre recycling firm Wastefront said it will produce low carbon maritime and road transport fuels from the Port of Sunderland site.

The business last week announced a strategic partnership with energy storage infrastructure provider VTTI, which could see investment in eight sites over the next five years.

VTTI, backed by Vitol, IFM Investors and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is one of the world’s largest independent energy storage infrastructure providers

The partnership’s initial stage is concerned with two areas: the first involving backing Wastefront with £32m to deliver the first phase of the Sunderland scheme; the second looking at the selection of further sites.

Wastefront said that the Sunderland plant will be able to process around 80,000 tonnes per year of end-of-life car and truck tyre material.

By these tyres not going to landfill or incineration, the plant will eliminate the emission of 1,800,000 tons of CO2 over the site’s lifetime, Wastefront said.

It is intended that the site will generate its own sustainable power, and could also provide recovered carbon black to be recycled into the tyre manufacturing process.

An initial £32m will be invested. Credit: Wastefront

The process developed by Wastefront uses pyrolytic reactors that use thermal depolymerization known as ‘pyrolysis’ to break down a tyre’s materials at elevated temperatures.

By sending tyres through these reactors, carbon black is produced, in addition to combustible gas, liquid hydrocarbon (pyrolysis oil), and heat. The carbon black is then washed and milled to upgrade the chemical properties and used as a reinforcement for natural rubber in tyre production, mechanical rubber goods, or as a filler for plastics, under precise formulations defined with customers.

Vianney Vales, chief executive of Wastefront, said: “This is the first time that our Wastefront Blueprint solution for circularity will be licensed on a global stage. VTTI has opted to go a step further and not just deploy our solution but also invest in Wastefront and in future plants.

“The investment will immediately enable us to scale our work at the Port of Sunderland, and to grow our market reach with the development of eight plants at VTTI sites worldwide.”

Wastefront said that the project will be developed in close collaboration with the Port of Sunderland, local community, environmental agencies and other stakeholders “to ensure positive local and global contribution”, adding that the facility will make use of the port for export purposes.

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