Lehigh's proprietary croyogenic-based technology converts rubber materials into a high technology powder that can be incorporated in new retread compounds offering higher levels of performance, Michelin said.
Michelin did not comment specifically on the recycled content of tread rubber it produces, but said at the recent Movin'On sustainability conference in Montreal that on average its tires contain 28% sustainable materials — 26% bio-sourced materials like natural rubber, sunflower oil, limonene etc., and 2% recycled materials such as steel or recycled powdered tires.
In general, Lehigh's PolyDyne and MicroDyne MRP products replace oil- and rubber-based feedstocks in industrial and consumer applications, including high-performance tires, plastics, consumer goods, coatings, sealants, construction materials and asphalt, Michelin said.
The company plans to be the global leader in using MRP in new tires. By working with Lehigh, Michelin ensures that supply chain efficiencies are maximised and that the specification of the materials fits the performance requirements of the retread compounds.
"Michelin and our customers will continue to benefit from the implementation of this closed-loop approach, where tires are recycled into tires, with Lehigh Technologies," according to Gary Scheide, responsible for materials manufacturing for Michelin North America.
"The Lehigh team is a great partner and a reliable supplier to our plants in North America. We look forward to working together to advance our sustainable manufacturing processes as we further incorporate Lehigh's expertise within the Michelin Group."
Michelin North American said its retread business unit facilities — tread rubber plants in Covington, Georgia, and Asheboro, North Carolina, primarily — are zero-waste operations as a result of this closed-loop model. This circular economy approach to waste avoidance reduces carbon dioxide load and delivers economic advantages, the company said.
To support the adoption of MRP in Europe, Michelin is working with Lehigh to build a 10,000-metric-ton per year facility in Navarra, Spain, with commissioning scheduled for this summer.