The full-scale plant will be capable of processing 180 tonnes of ELT waste daily, and of producing 90 tonnes of liquid hydrocarbons and 60 tonnes of carbon black, the chemical building block in products such as tyres and plastics, per day.
Construction on what Wastefront has dubbed “the UK’s greenest waste tyre recycling plant” is set to begin in 2021. It is expected to generate around 100 jobs in the region and, the Norwegian company says, once fully up and running in the second half of 2022 it will employ up to 30 people full time.
Wastefront recently received funding from the Norwegian state-owned company and national development bank Innovation Norway and is supported The Research Council of Norway, a Norwegian government agency that funds research and innovation projects. The company says it will be raising investment from UK, Nordic and International investors in the first quarter of 2021 to facilitate the construction of the plant.
Wastefront’s chief strategy officer, director and co-founder Christian A. Hvamstad, an alumnus of the University of Sunderland, said: “The construction of our first ever plant with the Port of Sunderland marks a huge step in Wastefront’s efforts to combat the global issue of ELT waste.
“Our ambition is to create a new circular economy for dealing with waste issues, and a crucial element of sustainable waste handling is to be able to do so locally. Wastefront’s first plant in Sunderland will represent a valuable contribution to a cleaner future by dealing with a specific waste problem, where end-of-life tyres no longer end up in landfills in overseas countries, but instead are converted into useful commodities that can be used within the region.
“The UK is a global centre of industry which we want to be a part of, while Sunderland is the ideal location for our first plant due to geographical location, access to feedstock, strong local support and Sunderland’s history as an industrial city.”
Wastefront was founded in Oslo in 2019 by Mr Hvamstad, its CEO Inge Berge and CFO Vegard Bringsjord.
Once operational the plant will include 12 pyrolytic reactors. These wil use pyrolysis to break down a tyre’s materials at elevated temperatures.
By sending tyres through pyrolytic reactors with a catalyst, Wastefront will convert disused tyres into liquid hydrocarbons, carbon black and heat.
The heat generated from Wastefront’s processes will be repurposed locally within industry, the company says.
It added its plant would be the first to combine conventional methods with the company’s own proprietary technology, which it said would minimise the environmental impact typically associated with traditional tyre pyrolysis.
The Port of Sunderland is currently undergoing a major transformation bolstered by an £8.2 million investment, after areas of its estate were granted Enterprise Zone (EZ) status in 2017.
Matthew Hunt, director at Port of Sunderland, said: “We are delighted that Wastefront has chosen to construct its first ever plant at Port of Sunderland and we are looking forward to working with Christian and the team to bring their vision to life.”