Tire-derived fuel

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Used tires in foreground waiting to be shredded and shredded tires in background. Tires and shredded.JPG
Used tires in foreground waiting to be shredded and shredded tires in background.

Tire-derived fuel (TDF) is composed of shredded scrap tires. Tires may be mixed with coal or other fuels, such as wood or chemical wastes, to be burned in concrete kilns, power plants, or paper mills. An EPA test program concluded that, with the exception of zinc emissions, potential emissions from TDF are not expected to be very much different from other conventional fossil fuels, as long as combustion occurs in a well-designed, well-operated and well-maintained combustion device. [1]


In the United States in 2017, about 43% of scrap tires (1,736,340 tons or 106 million tires) were burnt as tire-derived fuel. Cement manufacturing was the largest user of TDF, at 46%, pulp and paper manufacturing used 29% and electric utilities used 25%. Another 25% of scrap tires were used to make ground rubber, 17% were disposed of in landfills and 16% had other uses. [2]


Historically, there has not been any volume use for scrap tires other than burning that has been able to keep up with the volume of waste generated yearly. Tires produce the same energy as petroleum and approximately 25% more energy than coal. Burning tires is lower on the hierarchy of reducing waste than recycling, but it is better than placing the tire waste in a landfill or dump, where there is a possibility for uncontrolled tire fires or the harboring of disease vectors such as mosquitoes. [3] Tire Derived Fuel is an interim solution to the scrap tire waste problem. Advances in tire recycling technology [4] might one day provide a solution other than burning by reusing tire derived material in high volume applications.


Tire derived fuel is usually consumed in the form of shredded or chipped material with most of the metal wire from the tire's steel belts removed. The analytical properties of this refined material are published in TDF Produced From Scrap Tires with 96+% Wire Removed. [5]

Tires are typically composed of about 1 to 1.5% Zinc oxide, [6] which is a well known component used in the manufacture of tires and is also toxic to aquatic and plant life. The chlorine content in tires is due primarily to the chlorinated butyl rubber liner that slows the leak rate of air. The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) is a very good source for compositional data and other information on tires. The use of TDF for heat production is controversial due to the possibility for toxin production. Reportedly, polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and furans are produced during the combustion process and there is supportive evidence to suggest that this is true under some incineration conditions. Other toxins such as NOx, SOx and heavy metals are also produced, though whether these levels of toxins are higher or lower than conventional coal and oil fired incinerators is not clear. [7]


While environmental controversy surrounding use of this fuel is wide and varied, the greatest supported evidence of toxicity comes from the presence of dioxins and furans in the flue gases. Zinc has also been found to dissolve into storm water, from shredded rubber, at acutely toxic levels for aquatic life and plants. [8]

A study of dioxin and furan content [9] of stack gasses at a variety of cement mills, paper mills, boilers, and power plants conducted in the 1990s shows a wide and inconsistent variation in dioxin and furan output when fueled partially by TDF as compared to the same facilities powered by only coal. Some facilities added as little as 4% TDF and experienced as much as a 4,140% increase in dioxin and furan emissions. Other facilities added as much as 30% TDF and experienced dioxin and furan emissions increases of only as much as 58%. Still other facilities used as much as 8% TDF and experienced a decrease of as much as 83% of dioxin and furan emissions. One facility conducted four tests with two tests resulting in decreased emissions and two resulting in increased emissions. Another facility also conducted four tests and had widely varying increases in emissions. [1]

A 2004 study showed that huge polyaromatic emissions are generated from combustion of tire rubber, at a minimum, 2 orders of magnitude higher than coal alone. The study concludes with, "atmospheric contamination dramatically increases when tire rubber is used as the fuel. Other different combustion variables compared to the ones used for coal combustion should be used to avoid atmospheric contamination by toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic pollutants, as well as hot-gas cleaning systems and COx capture systems." [10]

Related Research Articles

Thermal depolymerization (TDP) is the process of converting a polymer into a monomer or a mixture of monomers, by predominantly thermal means. It may be catalysed or un-catalysed and is distinct from other forms of depolymerisation which may rely on the use of chemicals or biological action. This process is associated with an increase in entropy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Incineration</span> Waste treatment process

Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of substances contained in waste materials. Industrial plants for waste incineration are commonly referred to as waste-to-energy facilities. Incineration and other high-temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas and heat. The ash is mostly formed by the inorganic constituents of the waste and may take the form of solid lumps or particulates carried by the flue gas. The flue gases must be cleaned of gaseous and particulate pollutants before they are dispersed into the atmosphere. In some cases, the heat that is generated by incineration can be used to generate electric power.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gasification</span> Form of energy conversion

Gasification is a process that converts biomass- or fossil fuel-based carbonaceous materials into gases, including as the largest fractions: nitrogen (N2), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), and carbon dioxide (CO2). This is achieved by reacting the feedstock material at high temperatures (typically >700 °C), without combustion, via controlling the amount of oxygen and/or steam present in the reaction. The resulting gas mixture is called syngas (from synthesis gas) or producer gas and is itself a fuel due to the flammability of the H2 and CO of which the gas is largely composed. Power can be derived from the subsequent combustion of the resultant gas, and is considered to be a source of renewable energy if the gasified compounds were obtained from biomass feedstock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Waste-to-energy plant</span>

A waste-to-energy plant is a waste management facility that combusts wastes to produce electricity. This type of power plant is sometimes called a trash-to-energy, municipal waste incineration, energy recovery, or resource recovery plant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fossil fuel power station</span> Facility that burns fossil fuels to produce electricity

A fossil fuel power station is a thermal power station which burns a fossil fuel, such as coal or natural gas, to produce electricity. Fossil fuel power stations have machinery to convert the heat energy of combustion into mechanical energy, which then operates an electrical generator. The prime mover may be a steam turbine, a gas turbine or, in small plants, a reciprocating gas engine. All plants use the energy extracted from the expansion of a hot gas, either steam or combustion gases. Although different energy conversion methods exist, all thermal power station conversion methods have their efficiency limited by the Carnot efficiency and therefore produce waste heat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Municipal solid waste</span> Type of waste consisting of everyday items discarded by the public

Municipal solid waste (MSW), commonly known as trash or garbage in the United States and rubbish in Britain, is a waste type consisting of everyday items that are discarded by the public. "Garbage" can also refer specifically to food waste, as in a garbage disposal; the two are sometimes collected separately. In the European Union, the semantic definition is 'mixed municipal waste,' given waste code 20 03 01 in the European Waste Catalog. Although the waste may originate from a number of sources that has nothing to do with a municipality, the traditional role of municipalities in collecting and managing these kinds of waste have produced the particular etymology 'municipal.'

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Refuse-derived fuel</span> Extracted combustible fraction of municipal and other solid waste

Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) is a fuel produced from various types of waste such as municipal solid waste (MSW), industrial waste or commercial waste.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Waste-to-energy</span> Process of generating energy from the primary treatment of waste

Waste-to-energy (WtE) or energy-from-waste (EfW) is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the primary treatment of waste, or the processing of waste into a fuel source. WtE is a form of energy recovery. Most WtE processes generate electricity and/or heat directly through combustion, or produce a combustible fuel commodity, such as methane, methanol, ethanol or synthetic fuels.

Co-firing is the combustion of two different types of materials at the same time. One of the advantages of co-firing is that an existing plant can be used to burn a new fuel, which may be cheaper or more environmentally friendly. For example, biomass is sometimes co-fired in existing coal plants instead of new biomass plants. Another example is that biomass primary fuel fractions can be cofired with waste-derived fuels in biomass plants leading to an environmentally friendly destruction of waste fractions and cost-effective heat and power production. Co-firing can also be used to improve the combustion of fuels with low energy content. For example, landfill gas contains a large amount of carbon dioxide, which is non-combustible. If the landfill gas is burned without removing the carbon dioxide, the equipment may not perform properly or emissions of pollutants may increase. Co-firing it with natural gas increases the heat content of the fuel and improves combustion and equipment performance. As long as the electricity or heat produced with the biomass and landfill gas was otherwise going to be produced with non-renewable fuels, the benefits are essentially equivalent whether they are cofired or combusted alone. Also, co-firing can be used to lower the emission of some pollutants. For example, co-firing biomass with coal results in less sulfur emissions than burning coal by itself.

There are a number of different waste treatment technologies for the disposal, recycling, storage, or energy recovery from different waste types. Each type has its own associated methods of waste management.

Plasma gasification is an extreme thermal process using plasma which converts organic matter into a syngas which is primarily made up of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. A plasma torch powered by an electric arc is used to ionize gas and catalyze organic matter into syngas, with slag remaining as a byproduct. It is used commercially as a form of waste treatment, and has been tested for the gasification of refuse-derived fuel, biomass, industrial waste, hazardous waste, and solid hydrocarbons, such as coal, oil sands, petcoke and oil shale.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cement kiln</span> High temperature rotating oven used for producing clinker

Cement kilns are used for the pyroprocessing stage of manufacture of portland and other types of hydraulic cement, in which calcium carbonate reacts with silica-bearing minerals to form a mixture of calcium silicates. Over a billion tonnes of cement are made per year, and cement kilns are the heart of this production process: their capacity usually defines the capacity of the cement plant. As the main energy-consuming and greenhouse-gas–emitting stage of cement manufacture, improvement of kiln efficiency has been the central concern of cement manufacturing technology. Emissions from cement kilns are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for around 2.5% of non-natural carbon emissions worldwide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tire recycling</span> Reuse of waste tires

Tire recycling, or rubber recycling, is the process of recycling waste tires that are no longer suitable for use on vehicles due to wear or irreparable damage. These tires are a challenging source of waste, due to the large volume produced, the durability of the tires, and the components in the tire that are ecologically problematic.

The Isle of Wight gasification facility is a municipal waste treatment plant in southern England. It entered the commissioning phase in autumn 2008, and will be replaced by a new moving grate incinerator in 2019

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds</span> Class of chemical compounds

Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) are a group of chemical compounds that are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the environment. They are mostly by-products of burning or various industrial processes - or, in case of dioxin-like PCBs and PBBs, unwanted minor components of intentionally produced mixtures.

Co-processing is the use of waste as raw material, or as a source of energy, or both to replace natural mineral resources and fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and gas in industrial processes, mainly in energy intensive industries (EII) such as cement, lime, steel, glass, and power generation. Waste materials used for Co-processing are referred to as alternative fuels and raw materials (AFR).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Environmental effects of paper</span> Overview about the environmental effects of the paper production industry

The environmental effects of paper are significant, which has led to changes in industry and behaviour at both business and personal levels. With the use of modern technology such as the printing press and the highly mechanized harvesting of wood, disposable paper became a relatively cheap commodity, which led to a high level of consumption and waste. The rise in global environmental issues such as air and water pollution, climate change, overflowing landfills and clearcutting have all lead to increased government regulations. There is now a trend towards sustainability in the pulp and paper industry as it moves to reduce clear cutting, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel consumption and clean up its influence on local water supplies and air pollution.

Products made from a variety of materials can be recycled using a number of processes.

An Advanced Thermal Recycling (ATR) system is an advancement of existing energy-from-waste (EfW) technology. An ATR system converts municipal solid waste (MSW) into either electricity or steam for district heating or industrial customers. The combustion bottom ash and the combustion fly ash, along with the air pollution control system fly ash, are treated to produce products that can be beneficially reused. Specifically, ATR systems consist of the following:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tire recycling in the United States</span>

Tire recycling in the United States is the disposal and reuse of waste tires.


  1. 1 2 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2008-08-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "2017 U.S. Scrap Tire Management Summary" (PDF). U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association. July 18, 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 12, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  3. "Scrap Tire Derived Fuel | Wastes | EPA". Archived from the original on 2006-10-07. Retrieved 2008-08-15.
  4. "Rekomendasi dan Panduan Membeli Ban Mobil Terbaik Untuk Kendaraan Pribadi". 11 April 2022.
  5. "P2RIC - Latest News". 3 December 2021.
  6. http://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/pdffiles/rubber.pdf [ bare URL PDF ]
  7. "Tire Incineration | Energy Justice Network".
  8. http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/artificialturf/dep_artificial_turf_report.pdf [ bare URL PDF ]
  9. "Tire Incineration | Energy Justice Network".
  10. Alvarez, R.; Callén, M. S.; Clemente, C.; Gómez-Limón, D.; López, J. M.; Mastral, A. M.; Murillo, R. (2004-11-01). "Soil, Water, and Air Environmental Impact from Tire Rubber/Coal Fluidized-Bed Cocombustion". Energy & Fuels. 18 (6): 1633–1639. doi:10.1021/ef0499426. ISSN   0887-0624.