CALIFORNIA FIRM PURCHASES PATENT ON PROCESS THAT TURNS USED TIRES INTO OIL
6/14/00 4:54 PM
MOBILE, Ala (AP)-A California recycling company has purchased a patent on a method of converting used tires into high-grade oil, a process that was originally developed a decade ago by researchers at the University of South Alabama.
The process, purchased by Advanced Research Sciences, a subsidiary of the Tuftin, California based Quantum group, could provide an alternative means of disposal for the 250 million tires discarded each year in the United States.
For licensing the process to Advanced Research Sciences, the University of South Alabama was given an equity share in the company.
"If the company is successful, we'll be successful," said Nicole Baute, director of USA's office of technology development.
Chemical engineering professor Jagdish Dhawan demonstrated a table-top model of the process at a news conference Wednesday. He developed the technology with retired chemistry professor Richard Legendre.
Dhawan and Lengendre used technology that employs a large pressure cooker to make chemicals react differently than they would under normal conditions.
In the pressure cooker, the tire rubber is mixed with a solvent that is similar to common paint thinner. When heated and pressurized, the solvent reacts with the rubber to separate it into small chemical "pellets" that resemble the petroleum compounds used to make the tire.
The result, Dahwan said, is an oil that can be easily mixed with other oils, and a residue of carbon black, which has a number of manufacturing uses.
"This oil has all the components in gasoline," Dhawan said, and can easily be converted into gasoline using conventional refinery methods.
Dhawan said Advanced Research Sciences could produce its first oil sometime this year.
Ram B. Gupta, a chemical engineering professor at Auburn University, said Dhawan's process may offer environmental advantages over alternatives on the market because it separates sulfur compounds from the oil. Sulfur is one of the primary compounds in acid rain.
"If you can cut down on sulfur," Gupta said, "then you have something very useful."
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