Industrial technology company Pearl Global (ASX: PG1) has teamed up with Queensland-based Austek Asphalt Production to bolster the development of its waste-to-roads strategy that will see millions of used tyres a year diverted from landfill.
Pearl Global recently completed trials of its fuel and carbon char products with Austek and is now looking at broader commercial applications of the technology. It is also working with other asphalt producers to expand its distribution channels.
Among the first commercial applications is the resurfacing of the 2.5km track of the Norwell Motorplex on the Gold Coast, which is owned by Bathurst 1000 winner Paul Morris.
"Pearl's clean conversion technology represents a significant advancement on other known tyre recycling processes and is currently focused on processing end-of-life rubber including waste tyres," says Pearl Global CEO Gary Foster.
"We believe it is the only conversion process whose emissions are well under the world's strictest environmental standards, and it is the only process approved under the respective state regulations within Australia."
While carbon char is not new to the recycling sector, Austek Asphalt says the process Pearl Global has developed is unique in that it delivers a high volume, high quality char that produces a more durable and cost-effective asphalt.
Pearl Global's carbon char, produced after thermal treatment, is 75 per cent pure carbon and takes the form of a fine powder. Austek adds the carbon char to its aggregate mix to create the partnership's branded Zeroad asphalt products. Pearl also recovers fuel from waste tyres and this fuel is being used to run Austek's asphalt plant.
"Some 10 million tonnes of virgin resources are used every year in Australia to make asphalt," says Foster.
"With 560,000 tonnes of tyres disposed in Australia each year, we wouldn't have a tyre waste problem if it all went into Zeroad production."
It takes 10 tyres to produce one tonne of Zeroad asphalt and Austek can consume between 1.6 million and two million old tyres a year in a single bitumen plant.
"It is estimated that the world community currently disposes of more than one billion tyres every year," says Foster.
"Tyres are not naturally degradable and governments are increasingly seeking solutions for dealing with the waste."
Pearl Global, which this month raised $6.5 million to expand its production facility at Stapylton in the Gold Coast's northern industrial precinct, is initially targeting the Australian market with multiple sites close to the supplies of tyres and asphalt plants. It is also looking at offshore markets.
The company reported a surge in customer receipts to $1.649 million in the September quarter, up from $516,000 in the June quarter.
Austek is currently working with regional councils to use its Zeroad products on road projects.
"Following our recent trial at Norwell Motorplex, Austek Asphalt Services is talking with Moreton Bay Council, City of Gold Coast Council and Logan City Council to identify suitable and substantial Carbonphalt and Carbonmastic sites using our Zeroad technology," says Austek managing director Peter Ozoux.
Meanwhile, Norwell Motorplex owner Paul Morris is keen to see Zeroad used in racing circuits.
"The environmental benefits speak for themselves, but the end product will also be terrific from both a durability and performance standpoint," Morris says.
"We are grateful to be one of the first beneficiaries of it at the Norwell Motorplex. We want our Super School cars to enjoy a faster and safer surface, but we also need that surface to stand the test of time and the Austek product is designed to do both those things and cost-effectively."
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