Ecolomondo Making Pyrolysis Happen
A consummate entrepreneur, Eliot Sorella is the first to tell you that he bought Ecolomondo as a business investment fifteen years ago.
Sorella bought the building and plant from co-founders and inventors of the company’s proprietary Thermal Decomposition Process, Ricardo (Richard) Bouziane, (recently deceased) and Rodier Michaud.
“I didn’t really know much about the technology or about processing tires. Recycling was just emerging in the business world. I saw the company as a good business opportunity,” he said
There was a lot of risk. A lot needed to be done to increase output from the reactors and increase the value of the product.
“You had to believe in the technology as a very efficient method of processing end-of-life tires,” Sorella said.
It was that belief that led to the continual evolution of Ecolomondo over the next ten years during which Sorella did what he does best—he went to work building technical expertise, raising the needed funds, gathering an engineering team to develop and design methods for processing end-of-life tires (ELTs) and improving the quality of the end products into a form that would be accepted by the industry.
Through aggressive and ongoing research and development, performed at the two-reactor industrial-scale plant (Pilot) in Contrecoeur, Quebec, Canada, the coapn was able to overcome many of the uncertainties it encountered.
At Pilot, each reactor is capable of processing 6.5 tons of tire waste in less than eight hours.
“We were able to repeatedly validate and improve reactor payloads, cycle times and production yields, through testing and production trials “Sorella said.
For example, once we achieved a deliverable, we tested, Sorella said. “We have the lab capabilities and engineering knowledge on site to test and format our products.”
In addition, the Pilot plant provided the proving ground for turning scrap tires into recovered Carbon Black (rCB) oil, gas, steel and fiber and the company to conduct research into product formats industry would accept.
“You can’t sell your product if it’s not in the right format, “Sorella said.
This meant bringing in back-end systems and equipment for milling and pelletizing the rCB and separating/refining the recovered oil and gas. Ecolomondo also set up a recovered steel line to prepare and package the steel into a size and shape—2 ft x 2 ft steel blocks, similar to ingots, commonly used in the steel industry.
“Everything we learned in the Pilot plant is in the scaled-up state-of-the- art Hawkesbury plant”, Sorella said.
Designed for commercial-scale production, the Hawkesbury plant is more robust with separate departments for shredding, thermal processing, recovered carbon black processing and oil distillation, he said.
At full operation, the Hawkesbury plant can process 14,000 metric tons of crumb rubber per year yielding 5,300 metric tons of recovered carbon black, 42,700 barrels of oil, 1,800 metric tons of steel, 850 metric tons of fiber and 1,600 tons of syngas.
The most significant change for the Hawkesbury plant is the level of automation.
From the beginning, Sorella said he envisioned the company’s second generation plant operating with the least amount of human interface. There are separate automated control systems for thermal processing, shredding, recovered carbon black processing, scrubbers, gas flare and oil fractionation. All monitored by one control room. Operators are there for safety reasons and troubleshooting.
This level of automation means better efficiency, a more consistent product, and less chance for human error. With automated load cells on both input and output containers material is automatically loaded and emptied letting operators know how much material is being put in and how much is being taken out.
Automation allowed Ecolomondo to design totally contained areas for gas/oil separation and processing, adding an extra level of plant and worker safety.
An upgrade in piping from 4 -inch pipe in the Pilot plant to 12-inch piping in the Hawkesbury plant has improved both efficiency and safety, Sorella said. The larger piping means less stress on the equipment, improves the quality of the final products and minimizes variations in consistency.
Primary feedstock for the Hawkesbury plant –a mix of 20 percent light truck tires and 80 percent passenger tires is automatically off-loaded in the plant’s three-bay reception area in real time and pneumatically conveyed to the plant’s indoor shredding and crumb rubber processing department.
Understanding feedstock and feedstock technology is one of keys to making chemical recycling (pyrolysis) a commercial reality, Sorella said. “You need to know the level of contamination and the physical form (particle size) of the material your pyrolysis conversion technology will accept, as well as the availability of the feedstock in order to produce the highest quality end products.
The new shredding department takes up half the building and features an enclosed sonically acoustic protection in the rasper and vibrating sections with air circulation in and out of the enclosed area. Dust reduction and air quality are exceptional thanks to nuisance dust collectors and HVAC systems that are strategically positioned throughout the plant.
Scrap tires are initially downsized in a primary shredder and passed through two raspers reducing the material to crumb rubber granulate which is fed into a third rasper. The resulting 10-20 mesh crumb is 99 percent steel and fiber free. Finished crumb rubber is conveyed and top loaded into a five-day capacity holding tank. A screw conveyor at the bottom of the tank feeds the crumb rubber feedstock to an elevated feed system which loads the material into1,000 cu. ft. thermal processing reactors. Recovered carbon black is vacuumed out the side of the reactor. Recovered oil and gas are separated and processed separately into syngas and high quality marketable oil products.
With Hawkesbury a reality and a number of “firsts” already achieved including the ability to maintain its Pilot plant as a processing hub for crumb rubber feedstock; development of a process to improve as content from recovered carbon black and creation of a method for processing pyrolysis oil into a high-quality marketable commodity, Eliot Sorella is moving forward to advance his vision of expanding Ecolomondo’s TDP technology.
Late in 2021, the company purchased a 136.76 acre property in Shamrock, Texas for what it says is the first of several turnkey TDP recycling facilities it hopes to build throughout the U.S.
Also, in 2021 Ecolomondo launched Ecolomondo Process Technologies Inc., (EPT) a new waste-to-energy engineering subsidiary specializing in biogas upgrading, hydrogen production and CO2 capture.
Sorella said the new subsidiary will help chart a clear path forward in executing the company’s international goals and will be a key player in achieving TDP facility expansion targets.
It will also open new client opportunities and markets. EPT offers turnkey solutions to clients and performs engineering services, installation and commissioning of waste to energy plants along with skid fabrication of gas purification, separation and upgrading.
Sorella also sees EPT as offering opportunities to custom package parts of the Ecolomondo technology, for example gas capture and reprocessing as a stand-alone product/service for landfills.
Not one for dwelling on how things were before, Sorella likes to focus on how it’s done now. And for now, Sorella is on a path to continue his vision to evolve and lead Ecolomondo from being a pyrolysis company to being known as a global manufacturer, marketer and seller of recycled resources: rCB, steel, oil, and fiber.
© Scrap Tire News, January 2022