Ludwigshafen, Germany — German chemicals and plastics producer BASF AG is investing in a fellow German company that specialises in waste tire pyrolysis, with an eye toward using pyrolysis oil as a feedstock for plastics processing.
As part of a larger "ChemCycling" project, BASF is investing close to €16 million in Pyrum Innovations AG, a Dillingen, Germany-based company that is in the process of expanding its pyrolysis plant there beyond its current 10,000 tonnes of end-of-life tires a year capacity.
The deal with Pyrum includes BASF's commitment to buy most of the pyrolysis oil and process it into new chemical products using a "mass balance" approach, BASF said.
The resulting products will mainly be for customers from the plastics industry that are looking for high-quality and functional plastics based on recycled materials.
Part of Pyrum's business model is its intention to build additional tire pyrolysis plants together with interested partners, BASF said, a collaborative setup that will accelerate the use of Pyrum's proprietary technology in serial production.
Future investors in the technology can bank on BASF's pledge to buy pyrolysis oil to produce high-performance chemical products, thus serving to close the loop for post-consumer plastic waste.
Waste tires fall within the definition of post-consumer plastic waste according to DIN EN ISO 14021:2016-07, BASF said.
BASF and Pyrum anticipate that production capacities of up to 100,000 tonnes of pyrolysis oil derived from waste tires could be built up within the next years together with additional partners.
"BASF is committed to leading the transition of the plastics industry to a circular economy," Hartwig Michels, president of BASF's Petrochemicals Division, said.
"Replacing fossil feedstock through recycled feedstock at the beginning of the chemical value chain is a major lever in this regard.
Pyrum Founder and CEO Pascal Klein said the deal with BASF reflects a dozen years of hard work by his firm to gain market acceptance.
"We are confident that we will become one of the market leaders in tire recycling with BASF's investment," he said.
Pyrum, he said, can “finally increase” tire recycling and oil production capacity and concentrate efforts on making our technology even more performant.
Pyrum is also involved the "BlackCycle" project, a public-private European consortium working to develop "world-first" processes to recycle end-of-life tires (ELTs) into materials that can be used for the production of new tires.
With Group Michelin as the project's lead coordinator, BlackCycle's goal is to create, develop, and optimize a "value-chain form ELT feedstock" to secondary raw materials (SRMs) with no waste of resources and specific attention to the environmental impact.
These SRMs will be used to develop new ranges of passenger car and truck tires, which will be sold commercially in European and global markets, Michelin said.