Fulton Hogan, in partnership with Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), has installed and commissioned equipment designed for blending crumbed rubber and bitumen at its Geebung emulsion manufacturing plant in Brisbane.
Once fully operational, the new blending plant is expected to blend 500 tonnes of crumb rubber every year. This equates to more than 83,000 end-of-use tyres.
Fulton Hogan’s general manager for northern region, Richard Pearson, said the Queensland roads built using the open, dense and gap-graded crumb rubber asphalt produced at the new plant would be significantly more durable, longer lasting, quieter and safer than roads paved with conventional asphalt.
“Crumb rubber modified bitumen used as a binder for asphalt mixes for community roads is a tangible contribution to the environment through recycling used-tyres, and a lower life-cycle cost of the resulting road pavement,” Pearson said.
“It’s about taking a waste stream – in this instance, used tyres – through to an environmentally beneficial product to build infrastructure of critical value.”
The plant’s newly completed design includes the fabrication and installation of a static 25 tonnes-per-hour (tph) bitumen rubber blending plant which will use the existing bitumen tanks to supply the super-heated bitumen to the rubber blending plant.
Chris Lange, Fulton Hogan’s technical manager for northern region, said the installation and commissioning of the new crumb rubber plant – including connection to the existing facility’s pipework and services – was completed in April.
Fulton Hogan is the first company in Australia to use the US-designed equipment. Other plants currently in use are predominantly polymer blending plants adapted to blend crumb rubber, as chief executive officer of Tyre Stewardship Australia, Lina Goodman explained.
“Although more than half of Australia’s old tyres are recycled, upcycled or processed to make other products, like crumb rubber in roads, the equivalent of 27 million car tyres are wasted every year. These tyres often end up in landfill, stockpiles or are exported overseas,” she said.
Tyre wastes were reported to be the most common litter or illegally dumped wasted in Queensland, according to the most recent data from local councils. According to TSA data, Queensland generated more than 102,000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres in 2018-19.
Goodman said the data highlighted the opportunities available for development of local tyre processing/recycling facilities and signified the importance of recycling from both the environmental and local business growth perspectives.
Tyre Stewardship Australia has contributed $150,000 to the project. “As a material derived from end-of-life tyres, crumb rubber boasts a number of environmental benefits as a recycled product – benefits that are being realised across the Australian roads and infrastructure sector,” Goodman concluded.
“Finding innovative and sustainable ways of using old tyres is vital and crumb rubber asphalt roads are the perfect solution to a waste problem.”